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Sebastian P. Brock: 








AUGUST 1997 




Sebastian Peter Brock 

Moran 'Eth'6 - 9 

First published: 

August 1997 

Published by: 

St Ephrem Ecumenical Research Institute 
Baker Hill, Kottayam - 686 001 
Kerala, India 

Printed at: 

Deepika Offset Printers, 

Sastri Road, Kottayam - 1 

The second, fourth and sixth numbers of MORAN ETHO 
were from the erudite pen of the great Syriac scholar of Oxford, 
Prof. Sebastian P.Brock. The present volume is one more most 
welcome contribution by him. It gives an opportunity to the 
English speaking world, to become aware of the immense wealth 
of literature in the Syriac language. The contents include brief 
biographies of Syriac authors, a list of their published and yet to 
be published writings, as well as selections from some of these. 
Thus, the interested scholar or student is enabled to have a glimpse 
of the treasurers he can profit from. 

The publication of this volume is at a most opportune time. 
SEERI (St. Ephrem Ecumenical Research Institute) has started 
the M.A. course in Syriac language and literature under the 
Mahatma Gandhi University at Kottayam, Kerala. The students 
who have joined this course will find the present volume, most 

Prof. Brock draws attention to a large volume of writings 
in Syriac yet to be published. The scholars who do their re- 
search for the Ph.D. in Syriac in the M.G.University can profit- 
ably study such writings and make them available to the world at 


SEERI is very grateful to Prof. Brock for having entrusted 
the publication of this work as another number of MORAN 
ETHO. It is quite in consonance with his constant interest in the 
activities and progress of this institution. 



This outlme of Syriac literature aims to provide no more thin 
an initial orientation to the subject. The number S5 
wntmgs covered has dehberately been limited to the mo, m P or 
tant (or, in some cases, the more accessible); ftmhemior al Z ° h 

x;£^K£? ° T ;r outi,ne f has been ° n tL 

tions are largely pJtiction^V' r ^^ ** * eSe limita " 
c 1 inn ,-c J / Synac lltei "ature of the period up to 

crioOO s often ol particular significance and importance and ar 

French tr TtT r tllus ET = English translation, FT = 


Preface Page 

I. A Bird's Eye View: the Main Periods 7 

n. Secular and Ecclesiastical Background..... 8 

(a) Periods A-C (2nd-7th cent.) 8 

(b) Periods D-F (7th-20th cent.) 10 

III. The Six Main Periods 13 

A. lst-3rd centuries 13 

B. 4th century 19 

C. 5th to mid 7th century 30 

(a) 5th cent. 30 

(b) 5th/6th cent. 37 

(c) 6th cent 42 

(d) 6th/7th cent. 48 

D. Mid 7th to end 13th century 53 

(a) second half 7th cent. 53 

(b) 7th/8thcent. 57 

(c) 8th cent. 60 

(d) 8th/9th cent 63 

(e) 9th cent. 65 

if) 10th cent 70 

(g) 11th cent.... 71 

(h) 12th cent 72 

(i) 13th cent. 73 





E. 14th to 19th century 82 

F. 20th century 83 

Appendix: Chronological List (periods A-D) ....... 84 

Particular Topics 88 

(a) Bible ................................................................ 88 

(b) Exegesis 93 

(c) Liturgy 95 

(d) Canon Law 98 

[(e) Monastic literature 102 

[(f) Chronicles ...................................................... 1 10 

[(g) Secular literature 113 

Translations into Syriac 120 

Summary Guide to English Translations ............ 123 

Sample Passages from some 

more important Writings; 144 

Translations into Syriac 284 

Select Bibliography ...292 

Index of Names (to. HE) 309 



Syriac began -as the local Aramaic dialect of Edessa (Urhay, 
modern Urfa in SE Turkey), with its own script, first attested in 
inscriptions of the first century AD. It must have been adopted as 
the literary language of Aramaic-speaking Christianity at an early 
date, and as a result of this its use spread rapidly along with the 
spread of Christianity in the eastern provinces of the Roman Em- 
pire and in the Persian Empire further east. Syriac is in fact one of 
three Late Aramaic dialects which came to produce large surviving 
literatures, the other two being Jewish Aramaic and Mandaean; both 
in literary quality and in quantity Syriac easily suipasses these other 
two large Aramaic literatures. 

Syriac literature covers from the second to the twentieth 
century AD. This long span of time can conveniently be broken up 
into six main periods: 

A. The earliest literature: 2nd-3rd century AD. 

B. Aphrahat, Ephrem, and other fourth-century writings. 

C. Fifth to mid seventh century. 

D. Mid seventh to end of the thirteenth century. 

E. Fourteenth to nineteenth century. . 

F. Twentieth century. 

Of these six periods, B-D (4th-13th cent.) provide the most 
extensive and most important literature. 




(a) Periods A-C (2nd-7th cent.) belong to the time when Syriac 
writers were living either under the Roman Empire or under the 
Persian Empire (Parthians up to AD 226; Sasanians from 226 - 
640) . Syriac writers living under the Roman Empire (incre asingly 
Christian from the fourth century onwards) mostly came from what 
is now SE Turkey and Syria; those living under the Zoroastrian 
Persian Empire were from modern Iraq, Iran and the Gulf States. 
Under the early Sasanians there were intermittent persecutions of 
Christians, mostly at times of war with the Roman Empire; the 
most serious of these were under Shapur II in the mid 4th century. 
By the 6th century Christianity had become a recognized minority 
religion, and martyrs from that period onwards were almost all Zo- 
roastrian converts to Christianity from noble families. 

Periods A-B (2nd-4th cent.) belong to the time of the undi- 
vided Church. Arianism was a serious threat in Ephrem's day. As 
a result of the christologiCal controversies of the 5th century Syriac- 
speaking Christianity was divided into three ecclesiastical bodies: 
(1) the Church of the East (almost entirely in the Persian Empire, 
with a Catholicos Patriarch at Seleucia-Ctesiphon), which followed 
the strict Antiochene or dyophysite (two-nature) Christology advo- 
cated by Theodore of Mopsuestia; (2) those who (along with the 
Greek and all the Western Churches) accepted the christological 
formula of the Cojincil of Chalcedon (451); these in the course of 
the 7th century emerged as two separate bodies, each under a differ- 
ent Patriarch of Antioch, namely the Melkites and the Maronites; 
and (3) the Syrian Orthodox, who (along with the Armenian, Coptic 

Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
and Ethiopian Orthodox) rejected the Council of Chalcedon, and 
followed the Alexandrine or miaphysite (one-nature) Christology 
based on the teaching of Cyril of Alexandria. (The terms 'Nestorian' 
for the first group, and 'Monophysite 5 (or 'Jacobite 5 ) for the third 
group are seriously misleading, and should be avoided). 

It should be noted that the 'ecumenical' councils of this pe- 
riod were councils convened by the Roman emperor, and so ap- 
plied only within the Roman Empire (though they might subse- 
quently be received outside it, as happened with the Council of 
Nicaea (325) which was officially accepted by the Church in the 
Persian Empire at a synod in 41 0). 

The most important centres for Syriac literature were (in 
the Roman Empire): Edessa (modem Urfa), Nisibis (until 363), 
Serugh, Amid (modern Diyarbekir), Mabbug; by the sixth century 
there were a large number of monasteries in (what is now) North 
Syria and SE Turkey. In the Persian Empire the main centres were: 
Seleucia-Ctesiphon, Nisibis (after 363; its School was especially 
influential in the 6th cent.), Arbela, Karka d-Beit Slokh (modem 
Kirkuk), Beth Lapat (also called Gundeshapur), Karka d-Ledan, 
Qatar. In the sixth and seventh centuries many monasteries were 
founded especially in the Nisibis area and in what is now North 

Three main formative influences can be identified in peri- 
ods A-C (2nd-7th cent.): ancient Mesopotamian (which included 
literature in earlier Aramaic dialects), biblical and Jewish, and Greek. 
The first two of these influences are most obvious in periods A-B 
(2nd-4th cent.), while the third becomes more and more dominant 
as time goes on, reaching a peak in the 7th century. Syriac Chris- 
tianity is at its most distinctive in the fourth-century writers, and it 
has its own individual ascetic and proto-monastic tradition, quite 
independent at this date from the forms of monasticism which were 
developing in Egypt at the same time. Subsequently, however, the 


Sec. 8c Eccl. Background 

Egyptian monastic tradition, owing to its great prestige, became 
dominant in the area of Syriac Christianity as well, and the earlier 
distinctive Syriac ascetic tradition was largely forgotten. 

(b) Periods D-F (7th-20th cent.) belong to the time of Islamic 
domination in the Middle East. 

Period D (7th-l 3th cent.) belongs to the time of the Omayyads 
(7th-8th century), 'Abbasids (750-c.ll00),Seljuks (in Turkey, 11th/ 
1 2th centuries) and Mongols (from 1 3th century). Period E ( 1 4th- 
1 9th cent.) belongs to the time of (successively) Mongol, Mamluk 
(along with other local dynasties), and Ottoman rule in Western 
Asia, and opened with a time of great devastation and destruction 
through war and then the Black Death . Period F (20th cent. ) be- 
longs to the time of the break up of the Ottoman Empire and the 
emergence of the modern nation states in West Asia. 

By the time of the Arab invasions the ecclesiastical bound- 
aries between the different Christian communities had already be- 
come virtually fixed. The Syrian Orthodox and the Church of the 
East formed the largest of the Syriac Churches . From the 8th cen- 
tury onwards many writers of the Syriac Churches preferred to write 
in Arabic, rather than Syriac; thus there is very little Melkite and 
Maronite writing in Syriac after the 8th century, though Syriac re- 
mained the liturgical language in these Churches for much longer 
(in the Melkite Church Syriac was in a few localities used liturgically 
up to about the 17th century; in the Maronite Church it has contin- 
ued to the present day, but in recent years is largely being replaced 
by Arabic). As a result of the widespread adoption of Arabic as a 
literary language especially in the Melkite and Maronite Churches, 
most Syriac literature in period D (7th-13th cent.), and all Syriac 
literature in periods E-F (14th-20th cent.) has been produced by 
writers from the Church of the East and the Syrian Orthodox 
Churches (and, in the more recent centuries, their Eastern Rite 
Catholic counterparts). 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
Especially in the late eighth and the first half of the ninth 
century scholars from the various Syriac Churches played an im- 
portant role in the transmission of Greek philosophy and sciences 
to the Arab world through their translations and commentaries; best 
known of these scholars is Hunayn ibn Ishaq, whose normal prac- 
tice was to translate first from Greek into Syriac, and then from 
Syriac into Arabic; the reason for this seemingly cumbersome pro- 
cess was that he was able to benefit from the experience of a long 
tradition of translating such Greek texts into Syriac, while there 
was no such tradition for translating from Greek into Arabic and so 
it was easier to work from one Semitic language (Syriac) to another 
(Arabic). Many of these texts of Greek origin eventually reached 
western Europe by way of translations from Arabic into Latin made 
in Spain in the twelfth century. Syriac scholars thus form an impor- 
tant link in the chain of transmission of ancient Greek philosophy 
and science to Western Europe. 

The Byzantine reconquest of north Syria in the late tenth 
century resulted in renewed Greek influence there, above all in the 
area of liturgy; this applied especially to the Melkite Church, but 
also, to some extent, to the Syrian Orthodox. The Crusades (1 096- 
1270) brought the first direct contact with the Western Church, and 
it was from this period that the Maronite Church accepted the pri- 
macy of the Bishop of Rome. It was not until the mid 1 6th century 
onwards that the other Eastern Rite Catholic Churches emerged: a 
schism in the Church of the East led to the creation of an indepen- 
dent Chaldean hierarchy (1551 ), while the separate Syrian Catholic 
Church emerged in the course of the second half of the 1 8th century 
(1782 marked the definite emergence of a separate hierarchy). 

In India Syriac Christianity goes back, according to a very 
ancient tradition, to St Thomas; in any case Christianity was clearly 
well established in south India at an early date, and the ecclesiasti- 
cal links were with the Church of the East, under the Catholicos 


Sec. & Ecc!. Background 

Patriarch of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. Very little is known about the pre- 
Portuguese period (i.e. up to 1497) since unfortunately very few 
relevant historical documents survive. The latter part of the 1 6th 
century saw the attempt to latinize the Syriac rite in India and the 
suppression of many traditional features of the indigenous Church 
there. In reaction to this in the mid 1 7th century a group revolted 
against European ecclesiastical domination and connections were 
established with the hierarchy of the Syrian Orthodox Church in the 
Ottoman Empire, As a result an Indian hierarchy under the Syrian 
Orthodox patriarchate came into being and the West Syrian liturgi- 
cal tradition was gradually introduced, replacing the earlier East 
Syrian tradition. Around the middle of the 19th century, under the 
influence of English missionaries, a group within the Syrian Ortho- 
dox Church sought to make various reforms, and this led to the 
emergence towards the end of the century of the independent Mar 
Thoma Church, which has the distinction of being the only 'Re- 
formed' Church of Orthodox (as opposed to Catholic) origins. 

During Period D (mid 7th - 13th century) the main centres 
of Syriac literature continued to be located in (what is now) E Tur- 
key, Syria, Iraq, and NW Iran, the Syrian Orthodox predominantly 
in SE Turkey and Syria, but also to be found in Iraq (important 
centres were Tagrit, and the Monastery of MarMattai, SE of Mosul), 
and the Church of the East primarily in Iraq and NW Iran. The 
influence of the Church of the East, in particular, stretched along trade 
routes right across Asia, and a surviving Chinese-Syriac inscription in 
Xian, dated 78 1 , records the arrival of Christianity in western China in 

During Period E (14th - 19th century) the Syrian Orthodox 
Church has important centres in the area of Malatya (Melitene) and 
Tur 'Abdin, as well as in northern Syria and northern Iraq; the 
Church of the East is primarily located in northern Iraq, eastern 
Turkey and NW Iran. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

The 20th century (Period F) has witnessed widespread dis- 
placements of the population of all the Syriac Churches due to war 
and (more recently) large-scale emigration to countries all over the 




A. lst-3rd CENTURIES* 

This is the most obscure period of Syriac literature. Most 
texts are anonymous, and of uncertain date and origin; only a very 
few names of actual authors are known. The following are the 
most important works of this period: 

1*. PESHITTA OLD TESTAMENT This was translated 
directly from Hebrew into Syriac; different books were translated 
by different people, and perhaps at different times. Probably at 
least some books were translated by Syriac-speaking Jews, and then 
taken over by the early Syriac-speaking Church; others may have 
been translated by early Jewish converts to Christianity. Certain 
books, notably the Pentateuch and Chronicles, contain isolated fea- 
tures or interpretations which are characteristic of the Targums (Jew- 
ish Aramaic translations of the Old Testament). Probably much of 
the Peshitta Old Testament had been translated by the end of the 
second century. Since Syriac is the 1 ocal Aramaic dialect of Edess a, 
it is likely that the translation was made in Edessa, or in the region 
of Edess a. The name Peshitta is only first found in period D, when 
it was used to distinguish this traditional translation from a sev- 
enth-century translation from Greek (the Syro-hexapla). 


Six Main Periods... 

2* . The DIATESS ARON . Probably the earliest form of the 
New Testament to get into Syriac was the Diatessaron, or 'harmony' 
of the four Gospels, which provided the material from all four Gos- 
pels arranged as a single narrative, The Diatessaron is lost in its 
original form, and many uncertainties surround it. It is associated 
with the name of Tatian, who came from Syria or further east, stud- 
ied in Rome under Justin Martyr, and then returned to the east c. 1 70. 
If he composed the Diatessaron in Rome then its original language 
is likely to have been Greek (Latin is less likely), in which case the 
lost Syriac text was a translation (and could date from considerably 
later than Tatian 's time); but if Tatian compiled it after his return to 
the east, then Syriac is likely to have been the original language in 
which it was written. At present there is insufficient evidence to 
decide between these two main possibilities. 

3*. The OLD SYRIAC GOSPELS. Two fifth-century manu- 
scripts (known as the 'Curetonian' and 'Sinaiticus') of the Gospels 
preserve the oldest surviving text of the Syriac New Testament, 
called today the 'Old Syriac' [ET]. This is a comparatively free 
translation of the four separate Gospels, making use (it seems) here 
and there of the Diatessaron. The Greek text from which it was 
translated was very archaic in character and with many interesting 
features, as a result of which the Old Syriac is a witness of great 
importance for the study of the early history of the New Testament 
text. It is not known exactly when or where the Old Syriac transla- 
tion was made: most scholars date it to the third century, but a few 
prefer the early fourth. It happens to be the earliest witness to the 
existence of the Peshitta Old Testament (or at least, specific books 
of it), since the translators used the Peshitta Old Testament text for 
quotations from the Old Testament in the Greek Gospels - even in 
cases where the Greek form of the quotation is rather different from 
that of the Peshitta Old Testament. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

4*. BARDAISAN and the Book of the Laws of the Coun- 
tries . B ardais an is the one individual author from this period about 
whom something is known, including his exact dates (154-222). 
Bardaisan lived in Edessa and belonged to the court circles of King 
Abgar VHI, the Great. He must have been highly educated in Greek 
as well as in Syriac, but wrote only in Syriac, and was known as 'the 
Aramaean philosopher ' . Since he was a speculative thinker some 
of whose ideas (e.g. on cosmology) were later considered unortho- 
dox, his own writings have not survived, but he is known to have 
written in both prose and poetry. The Syriac Book of the Laws of 
the Countries, which does survive [ET], is often attributed to him, 
but in fact was probably written by one of his pupils, Philip. This 
work is a philosophical dialogue (essentially a Greek literary genre) 
on the subject of Fate; the speakers are Bardaisan and his various 
disciples. In the course of the work there is a description of the 
laws (or rather, customs) of various different ethnic groups; it is 
from this section that the current title derives. The work was 
translated into Greek (where it was known as 'On Fate', and attrib- 
uted to Bardaisan himself), and is quoted both in the Clementine 
Recognitions (IX. 1 9-29) and in Eusebius' work The Preparation of 
the Gospel (VI.10.1-48). 

5*. ODES OF SOLOMON [ET]. A group of 42 short lyric 
poems of great beauty survive almost complete in Syriac; one of 
these is also preserved in Greek, and five in Coptic. Date, place of 
origin and original language are all uncertain: some scholars see 
them as contemporary with the latest New Testament writings, hav- 
ing strong links with the Johannine literature; others place them in 
the mid or late second century, while others again see them as coun- 
tering Manichaeism, and thus belonging to the late third century 
(Mani was put to death in 276). The original language was prob- 
ably either Greek or Syriac, though Hebrew or another Aramaic dia- 
lect has also been suggested. If the Odes were written in Syriac, 
then they probably originate from the Edessa area; it should be 


Six Main Periods... 

noted, however, that they do not conform to the norms of any known 
Syriac verse form. Since the Odes of Solomon are highly allusive 
in character, it is difficult to determine the audience for which they 
were composed. Many of them evidently celebrate the liberated 
character of the baptised life in Christ (they are hardly hymns for 
the baptismal rite, as was once suggested). In several of the Odes 
the author appears to have Christ speaking in the first person, while 
in others the allusions and imagery defy any satisfactory interpreta- 

6*. The ACTS OF THOMAS [ET]. There is an extensive 
apocryphal literature associated with the name of Thomas. The 
two most important works are the Gospel of Thomas (probably writ- 
ten in Syria in the second century, and known from Greek frag- 
ments and a complete Coptic translation), and the Acts of 'Judas 
Thomas', composed in Syriac probably in the third century (place 
unknown). The Acts of Thomas survive in both Syriac and an early 
Greek translation; translations into several other Oriental Christian 
languages also exist. In general character the work resembles the 
various Greek apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, which belong to the 
genre of the novella, or 'romance 5 (the modern equivalent would 
be the historical novel). The Acts describe the apostle Thomas's 
mission to India, and the narrative is set out in thirteen sections 
(called 'acts'), followed by the Martyrdom of Thomas. Acts I- VI 
concern his time in North India and the conversion of king 
Gudnaphar, while Acts VII-XIII and the Martyrdom cover his ex- 
perience at the court of king Mazdai (evidently in South India). 
The descriptions, at various points in the Acts, of the liturgical rites 
of baptism and euchaiist (#25-27, 49, 121, 132, 157) are of great 
importance for students of oarly Syriac liturgical history. Incorpo- 
rated into the Acts of Thomas are two famous poems which are 
probably earlier than the rest of the work; these poems are of an 
allegorical character, and are often known as the 'Hymn of the Bride 5 
(#6-7) and the 'Hymn of the Pearl' (or, 'of the Soul'; ##108-13). 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
The topics of the individual acts are: I (#1-16), the alloca- 
tion of India to Judas Thomas, and his sale, by Christ, to Habban, a 
merchant of king Gudnaphar; on their arrival at Sandarukthey at- 
tend the wedding feast of the local king, during which Judas Tho- 
mas sings the song of the Bride of Light (#6-7); II (#17-29), Judas 
Thomas builds a palace for the king in heaven, rather than on earth; 
at first the king is angry, but is eventually won over and he receives 
baptism; HI (#30-38), an episode concerning the Black Snake, where 
Judas Thomas revives a young man, slain by the snake; IV (#39- 
41), a colt invites Judas Thomas to ride on it in order to go to the 
city to preach; V (#42-50), Judas Thomas heals a woman possessed 
by adevil, and then baptizes her; VI (#51-61) he raises from the 
dead a young woman who had been murdered by a youth; she de- 
scribes what she has seen in the underworld, and the torments of 
the wicked; VH (#62-67), an episode concerning a general (later 
on named as Sipur) who seeks the Apostle's help in healing his 
wife and daughter; he entrusts them to his deacon Xanthippos; 
VIII (#68-8 1 ), four wild asses offer their services to Judas Thomas,' 
and they convey him and the general to the city, where the Apostle 
heals the general's wife and daughter; IX (#82-11 8) the conversion 
of Mygdonia, wife of Karish, a kinsman of king Mazdai; when 
Mygconia refuses to sleep with Karish, he complains to Mazdai, 
who throws the Apostle into prison, where he sings the Hymn of 

the Soul(#108-113);X(#119-133)Mygdonia is baptised, together 
with her nurse Narkia; subsequently Sipur and his wife and daugh- 
ter also ask for baptism; XI (#134-138), Mazdai's wife Teitia vis- 
its Mygdonia and is won over by the Apostle's teaching - to the 
dismay of Mazdai; XH (#139-149) Mazdai's son Vizan has vari- 
ous conversations with the Apostle, who is again imprisoned; XIII 
(#1 50-1 58), Vizan, his wife Manashar, and Teitia are all baptized; 
[XIV] The Martyrdom (#159-170): king Mazdai sentences the 
Apostle, orders some soldiers to take him up a nearby mountain 
and stab him to death. Judas subsequently appears to Sipur and 
Vizan, and to the women. Later, some dust from the Apostle's grave 


Six Main Periods... 

heals one of Mazdai's sons from demonic possession, and Mazdai 

himself confesses Christ, 

7. A Syriac work attributed to 'MELITO the 
Philosopher' [ET], claiming to be a Discourse before Antoninus 
Caesar (i.e.the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, AD 
161-1 80), belongs to the second-century genre of 'Apologies', or 
defences of Christianity addressed to the Roman Emperor, of which 
several examples survive in Greek. Since it envisages a time when 
the emperor might convert to Christianity, it is more likely to be- 
long to the third, rather than the second, century. It is uncertain 
whether Syriac is the original language; since the work quotes 2 
Peter (not in the early Syriac New Testament canon), it may well be 
that the Syriac is translated from a lost Greek original. 

8. The Syriac SENTENCES OF MENANDER [ET] consist 
of wisdom sayings attributed to Menander the Sage. The work has 
no clear connection with a Greek collection of Menander Sentences; 
it is usually thought, however, that the Syriac is a translation and 
that-the work was originally written perhaps in Egypt in the early 
Roman period. The author has little knowledge of Judaism and 
there are no traces of Christianity. 

9. The LETTER OF MARA [ET] to his son Serapion, which 
gives various counsels of advice to his son in the face of the vanity 
of the world. The author purports to be a pagan, and passing men- 
tion is made of 'the wise king' (i.e. Jesus) who was killed by the 
Jews, as a result of which Jerusalem fell. The Letter has been 
dated variously to the late first century, the third century, or the 
fourth century ; since the link between the destruction of Jeras alem 
(in AD 70) and the death of Jesus is characteristic of fourth-century 
Christian anti- Jewish polemic, it is likely that the Letter is in fact a 
Christian product of that century. 

10*. The story of the 'Aramaean Sage' AHIKAR [ET] has 
the distinction of being the longest-lived piece of Aramaic litera- 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
lure, witnesses to it spanning two and a half millennia; the Aramaic 
text goes back at least to the fifth century BC, when it is already 
found in a papyrus from Elephantine (in the south of Egypt), and 
the work was evidently well known to the author of the book of 
Tobit, where Ahikar features as a close relative of Tobit (Tobit 1 :21 ). 
In the Hellenistic period the book was translated into Greek (now 
lost, apart from a section which was incorporated into the Greek 
Life of Aesop). It is not known exactly how the story of Ahikar 
reached Syriac, but this was probably at an early date. Over the 
course of time translations have been made into many different lan- 
guages, among them Arabic, Armenian, Ethiopia Georgian, Old 
Turkish, Modern Syriac, and (via the lost Greek) Romanian and 
Slavonic. The work consists of a narrative framework set in the 
time of the Assyrian king Sennacherib (704-68 1 BC), and into this 
framework two sets of admonitions to Ahikar 's nephew Nadan had 
been incorporated at an early date. 


The middle and second half of the fourth century witness the 
first major Syriac writings to survive: the Demonstrations of 
Aphrahat, the extensive poetry and prose works by Ephrem, and 
the anonymous Book of Steps (Liber Graduum). 

1 1 *. APHRAHAT (also known as 'the Persian Sage') is the 
author of a collection of 23 short works described as 'Demonstra- 
tions' or (sometimes) 'Letters' [FT, GT, partial ET]. The first 22 
form an alphabetic acrostic (the Syriac alphabet has 22 letters), and 
1-10 are specifically dated to AD 337, 1 1-22 to AD 344, and 23 to 
August AD 345. The exact identity of the author was unclear to 
later writers, and in the earliest manuscripts his name is given as 
'Jacob', rather than 'Aphrahat', and this gave rise to his being incor- 
rectly identified as*Jacob, bishop of Nisibis (obviously impossible, 
sinceJacobofNisibisdiedin338). This confusion must have arisen 
at an early date, since it is found in the Latin writer Gennadius (late 


The Fourth Century 

fifth century), as well as in the early Armenian translation of the 
Demonstrations. In the Middle Ages further confusion was added 
when he was described as a bishop of the famous monastery of Mar 

Aphrahat (as he is regularly called today) was certainly writ- 
ing within the Persian Empire, and must have been a figure of some 
authority within the Church (this emerges especially from Demon- 
strations 10 and 14, both of which are addressed to 'the bishops and 
clergy'). The Demonstrations cover a wide variety of topics, as 
can be seen from the following list: 

1, On Faith [ET] 

2, On Love [ET] 

3, On Fasting 

4, On Prayer [ET] 

5, On Wars [ET] 

6, On the Bnay Qyama [see below for these; ET] 

7, On Penitents [ET] 

8, On the Resurrection of the Dead [ET] 

9, On Humility 

10, On the Pastors [ET] 

1 1, On Circumcision [ET] 

13, On the Sabbath [ET] 

14, Exhortation 

15, On the Distinction between foods [ET] 

16, On the (gentile) Peoples who have taken the place of the 
(Jewish) People [ET] 

17, On Christ the Son of God [ET] 

1 8, Against the Jews, on Virginity and on Continence [ET] 

1 9, Against the Jews who say that they will be gathered together 
again [ET] 

20, On the Support of the Needy 

21, On the Persecution [ET] 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

22, On Death and the Last Times [ET] 

23, On the Grape in the Cluster, in which there is Blessing (Isaiah 
65:8). [partial ET] 

The first group often Demonstrations are primarily concerned 
with aspects of the Christian life, while in the second group ( 1 1 -22) 
many of the Demonstrations are aimed at Christians who were at- 
tracted by Judaism and had adopted various Jewish practices (it is 
not very likely that Aphrahat was arguing directly with Jews). 

Demonstration 4 has the distinction of being the earliest 
Christian treatise in any language on prayer (as opposed to the Lord's 
Prayer, on which Origen had written in the third century). 

Demonstration 6 is one of the most important sources for 
knowledge of the early Syriac ascetic tradition, independent of the 
influence (which was later to prove very strong) of Egyptian mo- 
nasticism. The work is addressed to certain categories of men and 
women who had evidently made some sort of ascetic commitment, 
perhaps at the same time as baptism (which at that time would have 
been adult, rather than infant, baptism). The key terms used are 
ihidaye, bnay qyama, bthule and qaddishe. In later usage ihidaya 
means 'solitary, hermit', as opposed to dayraya, a cenobitic monk; 
in fourth-century texts, however, it has a much wider sense, cover- 
ing all of the following: single (in the sense of celibate), single- 
minded, and follower of Christ the ihidaya (ihidaya corresponds to 
Greek monogenes, 'Only-Begotten' ). Bnay qyama, literally 'chil- 
dren of the covenant' (singular bar qyama (masc.) and bath qyama 
(fern.)) seems to be another term for the same group; various sug- 
gestions have been made for the sense of qyama here, but on the 
whole it seems 'covenant', in the sense of formal commitment, is 
the most likely). The ihidaye, or bnay qyama, are made up of two 
categories, the bthule and the qaddishe. The term bthule, literally 
'virgins', refers to unmarried men or women who have committed 
themselves to celibacy, while qaddishe, literally 'holy ones', is used 


The Fourth Century 

of married people who have decided to refrain from sexual inter- 
course (the term derives from the Sinai narrative in Exodus 19: 
compare verse 10 with verse 1 5). 

Demonstrations 5, 14 and 2 1 all concent contemporary events, 
and so are of historical significance. 

Aphrahat's concern with Judaism in the second group was 
partly occasioned by external events: in the early 340s (perhaps 
341 ), at a. time of hostilities with the Roman Empire, a persecution 
took place and a number of prominent Christians, clergy and lay, 
were martyred. One of the causes of this seems to have been accu- 
sations, made by Jews influential in court circles, that the Chris- 
tians secretly favoured the Romans (an accusation probably not with- 
out a grain of truth, as can be seen from the much earlier Deni. 5). 
(Demonstration 2 1 is specifically on this persecution). 

Aphrahat's Demonstrations represent the first extensive 
piece of Syriac literature to survive. Many passages are written in 
an artistic and highly poetical form of prose, and his works consti- 
tute one of the best models of early Syriac prose style. Though 
certainly not untouched by Greek influence, Aphrahat is one of the 
least hellenized of Syriac writers . 

12*. EPHREM (c.306 - 9 vn 373). The date and place of his 
birth are unknown. His parents were probably both Christian, and 
most of his life was spent in Nisibis where he served as a deacon 
under its bishops, beginning with Jacob (James; d.338). In 363, 
when Nisibis was handed over to the Persian Empire the Christian 
population had to leave and so Ephrem spent the last ten years of 
his life in Edessa. It should be noted that the sixth-century biog- 
raphy of Ephrem is full of unreliable details, and gives a misleading 
portrait of him. 

Ephrem wrote in both prose and poetry, and in both these 
mediums he made use of two separate forms: some of his prose 
works are in straightforward prose, while others are in a highly ar- 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
tistic form of prose. In his poetry he makes use of both the niemra 
and the madrasha. The memra is employed for narrative poetry, 
and is written in couplets consisting of 7 + 7 syllables (later known 
as the metre of Mar Ephrem), while the madrasha is used for lyric 
poetry written in stanzas, which can be in a variety of different syl- 
labic metres, though for any one poem the same metre is adhered to 
throughout. Ephrem has a repertoire of some 50 different syllabic 
metres, ranging from the very straightforward (e.g.four lines, each 
of 5 syllables) to the highly complex. 

Ephrem's great reputation rests primarily upon his poetry, 
and he is undoubtedly to be classed as the finest and greatest of all 
Syriac poets. At the same time Ephrem was a theologian of great 
insight, and one who deliberately preferred to express his theology 
through the medium of poetry rather than prose. No doubt as a 
result of his fame, a very large number of writings came to be trans- 
mitted under his name, many of which are certainly not genuinely 
by him, while uncertainty surrounds some of the others. Those 
mentioned below are for the most part generally accepted to be the 
genuine works. 

The unsatisfactory eighteenth- and nineteenth-century edi- 
tions of Ephrem's works have now almost entirely been replaced 
by better modern editions. 

Prose. ( 1 ) Ordinary Prose 

- Commentary (pushaqa) on Genesis [ET]. 

- Exposition (turgama) on Exodus [ET]. A set of com- 
mentaries on most of the books of the Old Testament is attributed 
to Ephrem, but it is only these two that are likely to be genuine (or 
if not, at least to come from his circle). The biblical text is com- 
mented on in sequence, but unevenly; in the Commentary on Gen- 
esis a great deal of attention is paid to the early chapters (especially 
1-6), while only intermittent comment is made on the rest of the 


The Fourth. Century 

book, with the exception of Gen.49, for which he offers two differ- 
ent sets of comment. The Interpretation on Exodus is much shorter 
and incomplete, ending with ch.32. Both works are remarkable for 
the large number of Jewish traditions to which they allude, and at 
times Ephrem quotes phrases which coincide with one or other of 
the Jewish Targums; it is not at all likely, however, that he had 
direct access to these, and his knowledge of Jewish traditions prob- 
ably came to him orally. 

- Commentary on the Diatessaron [ET]. The Syriac original 
of most of this work has only come to light within the last few de- 
cades; before that, the work was only known from an Armenian 
translation (which is still the only complete text). In this work 
Ephrem comments on the harmonized text of the Gospel known as 
the Diatessaron, rather than on a single Evangelist; besides being 
a very important witness to the text of the Diatessaron, the Com- 
mentary is of particular interest as an extensive fourth-century source 
for early Syriac exegesis of the Gospel text. The work is very 
varied in its literary character: some sections read more like notes 
while others contain extended theological digressions; others, again,' 
take on almost a lyrical character. Since the exegesis of the Com- 
mentary sometimes conflicts with that found in the Hymns, it has 
been suggested that the Commentary may derive from the follow- 
ers of Ephrem, rather than Ephrem himself; to complicate matters 
further, there are some notable differences here and there between 
the Syriac and Armenian texts, and at one point there is a duplica- 
tion in the text (X. 1 -2(beginning) and XV. 1 9b). The Commentary 
also contains the only clear case in the whole of the Ephrem corpus 
of knowledge of Aphrahat: XVI.25 clearly reflects Aphrahat 

- Commentary on Acts [LT]. This short work survives only in 
Armenian translation. 

- Commentary on the Pauline Epistles [LT]. This too sur- 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
vives only in Armenian. It includes a commentary on III Corinthians, 
an apocryphal letter of Paul which had quite wide circulation in the 
early Syriac Church, but which no longer survives in Syriac. 

- Prose Refutations [ET]. Under this modern general title 
the following works are included: Five Discourses addressed to 
Hypatius, against false doctrines; Against Bardaisan's Discourse 
entitled 'Domnus ' (the work is also known as Against the Platonists) ; 
Against false teaching (or: Against Marcion, I); Two Discourses 
against Marcion (or: Against Marcion II-III); Discourse against 

Prose (2) Artistic Prose 

- Discourse on our Lord [ET]. 

- Letter to Publius [ET]. Two extensive extracts survive from 
this letter which consists in a meditation on the Last Judgement. 

- Discourse on the Signs which Moses performed in Egypt 
[FT] . This belongs to a group of discourses under Ephrem's name, 
and this one alone has been judged to be genuine. 

Poetry (1) Narrative verse (memre) 

- Six memre on Faith [ET]. Usually thought to be an early 

- Memre on Nicomedia [FT]. This extensive cycle takes as 
its topic the devastation by earthquake of Nicomedia in 358. The 
work survives in Syriac only in a few quotations, but is available 
almost completely in an early Armenian translation. 

- Memre against Bardaisan [ET]. 

A large number of memre are transmitted under Ephrem's 
name, only a few of which are likely to be genuine. In the four 
volumes of Sermones (= memre) in E. Beck's critical edition the 


The Fourth Century 

following are considered by him as probably genuine: 
-1.1-3, On Reproof 

- n ^> On Jonah and the Repentance of NmevehfETl This 

ran Imv ^ ™ tra " Slated lnt0 Greek ' ArmenramGeor- 
gran and Ethiopic; many excerpts from it are to be found both in 
the Synan Orthodox Fenqrtho and in the Church of the East's Hudra 
- H.4, On the Sinful Woman (Luke 7) fET]. The core of this 
mfluenua^ poem rs considered by Beck to be genuine. Th „ j " 
.venntrodnces the Seller of Unguents and Satin (posine as oTe of 

later writers. There rs a Greek adaptation, through which these 
motifs ultimately reached the medieval west. " 

- IV.2 On Solitaries [ET], This alone of the texts in Beck's 
Sermones HI and IV m.ght possibly be genuine. The menu ed 
hed by him m his Nachtrage zu Ephrem are not likely to be B e, u 
me and the same applies to the many memre published elsewh ne 
under Ephrem's name. uci^wneie 

Poetry (2) Lyrical poems (madrashe, or prayer sonas- con 
ventionally translated 'hymns') g 

These constitute Ephrem's most important writing thev 
come down to us in collections of varying sizes preserved with the 

c ipts ol the Irfth to seventh century (later manuscripts and the 
urging tradition provide only excerpts). It ,s uncertain wheth r 

t/cohe e o tl0 tT g ° ba f t0 Ephrem hlmSelf ' ° r t0 *°™ ^ter d- 

nc b 485 1IS m r , ^ * ^ ^ they Were alre ^ >* exist- 
ence by 485, when Philoxenus refers to several of them (he also 

mentions some collections which no longer survive). 

- madrashe on Faith [ET], This is the largest collection (87) 

s ss rsr ous group ° f five — - «* ** - >* 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

- madrashe onNisibis [ET for 1-21, 35-43, 52-68]. This col- 
lection of 77 poems is usually known under the Latin title given it 
by its first editor (Bickell); only the first 34 concern Nisibis and its 
bishops, while the remainder are for the most part concerned with 
the theme of the Descent of Christ into the Underworld (Sheol). In 
a small group of the second half (nos 52-54) Ephrem employs the 
ancient Mesopotamian genre of the precedence dispute, where two 
characters (m this case Satan and Death) dispute in alternating verses 
over which of the two has superior power over human beings; this 
genre was subsequently taken up and adapted by the authors of the 
later Dialogue poems between pairs of biblical characters (see 17, 
below, for these). 

- madrashe against Heresies. Most of the poems in this group 
of 56 madrashe are directed against the teaching of Marcion, 
Bardaisan and Mani; they probably belong to Ephrem's last ten 
years when he was in Edessa. 

- madrashe on Virginity [ET]. This collection of 52 poems (a 
few are lost or damaged) covers many other topics as well (e.g. 4-7 
are entitled 'On oil, the olive, and the mysteries of our Lord'). 

- madrashe on the Church [GT], This collection, also of 52 
poems, covers a variety of topics; there are several gaps where the 
manuscript is defective. 

- madrashe on the Nativity [ET]. This collection was prob- 
ably originally much larger than the 28 poems in Beck's edition, 
and is likely to have included a small number of perhaps genuine 
poems in the collection now entitled 'On Epiphany' (in Ephrem's 
day the Nativity and Epiphany (Baptism) of Christ were celebrated 
on the same day, 6th Jan.). Excerpts from a number of them fea- 
ture in the liturgical texts for the period of Subbara and Nativity in 
both the Fenqitho and the Hudra. 



The Fourth Century 

- madrashe on Unleavened Bread (21), on the Crucifixion 
(9), and on the Resurrection (5) [FT]. The first group of this Pas- 
chal cycle is missing several poems in the middle. A number of 
stanzas from these madrashe also feature in the Fenqitho and Hudra. 

- madrashe on Paradise [ET]. This group of 1 5 poems prob- 
ably belong to his time in Nisibis. 

- madrashe on the Fast (10). 

- madrashe against Julian [ET]. This small collection of four 
madrashe is concerned with the death of the emperor Julian on cam- 
paign in lhe Persian Empire in 363; this was seen by Ephrem (and 
by Christian writers in general) as a punishment for his reversion to 
paganism and his various actions taken against Christianity. 

- Three further collections, on the ascetics Abraham of Qidun 
( 1 5) and Julian the Elder (Saba; 24), and on the Confessors (6) are 
attributed to Ephrem, but most of these madrashe cannot be by him 
for various reasons; those which may be genuine are: On Abraham 
of Qidun 1-5; oh Julian Saba 1-4. 

- A collection of 51 hymns [LT] is preserved only in Arme- 
nian translation. Some at least of these could well be genuine and 
represent material belonging to some of the lost collections of 

work dealing with spiritual direction, consisting in 30 chapters [LT; 
ET forthcoming]. The author/who almost certainly lived in the 
Persian Empire (there is a reference to the river Zab, a tributary of 
the river Tigris), is unknown; probably he was writing in the late 
fourth century (or possibly early fifth). Within the Christian com- 
munity which the anonymous author is addressing a distinction is 
made between the 'Upright' (ki'ne) and the 'Perfect' or 'Mature' 
(gmire): the former observe the 'lesser commandments' and live a 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
life of active charity, while the latter follow the 'greater command- 
ments', which involve a total renunciation of belongings and a radi- 
cal imitation of the life of Christ. 

The Book of Steps was rarely copied as a whole, and most 
of the (fairly numerous) manuscripts contain only a small number 
of Discourses (sometimes mis attributed: e.g. Mis wrongly attrib- 
uted to Evagrius). The Book of Step's two-fold classification was 
taken up later by Philoxenus (see 22, below), whereas most subse- 
quent writers preferred the three-fold model developed by John the 
Solitary (see 1 6, below). 

The 30 chapters have the following headings: 

1 , On the distinction between the major commandments, for the 

perfect, and the minor commandments, for the upright. 

2, On those who wish to be perfect. 

3, The physical and the spiritual ministry. 

4, On 'vegetables' for the sick (cp Rom. 14:2). 

5, On 'milk' for infants (cp I Cor.3:l-2). 

6, On the person who becomes perfect and continues to grow. 

7, On the commandments for the upright. 

8, On the person who gives all he has to the poor to eat. 

9, On uprightness and on the love of tlu, upright and of the proph- 


10, On the advantage we have when we endure evil while per- 
forming good; and on fasting and humiliation of body and 

1 1 , On hearing the Scriptures, and when the Law is read before us . 

12, On the ministry of the hidden and the revealed church. 

1 3, On the way of life of the upright. 

14, On the upright and the perfect. 

1 5, On the marriage instinct in Adam. 

16, On how a person grows as a result of the major command- 


Fifth to Mid Seventh Centuries 

17, On the sufferings of our Lord, by which an example is pro- 
vided for us. 

1 8 , On the te ars of pray er. 

19, On the distinguishing characteristics of the way of perfec- 

20, On the hard steps on this way. 

21 , On the Tree of Adam. 

22, On the judgements by which those who make them are not 

23, On Satan, Pharoah, and the Children of Israel. 

24, On repentance, 

25, On the voice of God and that of Satan. 

26, On the second law which the Lord laid down for Adam. 

27, On the matter of the thief who was saved. 

28, On the human soul not being blood. 

29, On subduing the body. 

30, On the commandments of faith and of love of the Solitaries. 

(a) 5th cent 

14. CYRILLONA. (fl. c.400). A small collection of six 
verse texts (which evidently belong together) include two which 
are specifically attributed to a Cyrillona, whose identity remains 
mysterious. Since one of the poems concerns an incursion of the 
Huns, this can be dated to c.3 96 . Some modern writers have iden- 
tified him with 'Absamya, the son of Ephrem's sister, solely on the 
grounds that he is also said to have written a poem on an incursion 
by the Huns; even more unlikely is the suggestion that he is to be 
identified as Qiyore (Cyrus), head of the School of Edessa. The 
six poems are in several different metres and cover the following 
topics: on locusts and on the incursion of the Huns; on the Wash- 
ing of the Feet; on the Pasch; on the Crucifixion; on Wheat and 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

its symbolism; and on Zacchaeus (those on the incursion of the 
Huns and the Crucifixion are the ones specifically attributed to 
Cyrillona). [GT, FT, IT]. 

15.BALAI. (fl. first half of 5th cent.). Nothing is known of 
the life of this poet except that he was a chorepiskopos, perhaps in 
the area around Aleppo. 

- Five madras he in honour of the departed bishop Akakios of 
Beroea (Aleppo). 

- A madrasha written for the dedication of a new church in 
Qenneshrin (Chalkis). [ET, FT, GT]. 

- Many short liturgical ba'awata (supplicatory hymns) in the 
five-syllable metre (known as the metre of Mar Balai) are attrib- 
uted to him, but whether correctly or not is uncertain. 

- An early manuscript of the epic poem on Joseph (in 12 
memre, employing the 7+7 syllable metre) attributes this work to 
Balai, rather than to Ephrem: its true author remains uncertain. 

16*. JOHN THE SOLITARY (John of Apamea). (first half 
5th cent.). Much uncertainty surrounds the identity of the author of 
a considerable number of works on spirituality: the manuscripts 
attribute them variously to John the Solitary, John of Apamea, and 
John of Lykopolis (or Thebes; d. c.394); the last is certainly incor- 
rect, but it seems quite likely that John the Solitary and John of 
Apamea are one and the same person who belongs to the first half 
of the fifth century, and is to be distinguished from 'John the Egyp- 
tian', whose teaching Philoxenos opposed, and a later 'John of 
Apamea', condemned at a Syrian synod in 786/7. The works pub- 
lished so far under John's name all seem to be genuinely by the 
same author, and their threefold pattern of the spiritual life, the stages 


Fifth to Mid Seventh Centuries 

of the body, of the soul and of the spirit, was to prove very influen- 
tial on later Sy riac monastic writers . John must have received his 
education in both Greek and Syriac, and he may have had some 
training in medicine. Several of his works are m the form of dia- 
logues, imitating the Greek genre of the philosophical dialogue that 
had already been used in the Book of the Laws of the Countries. 
His main works so far published are: 

- A dialogue on the soul and the passions [FT]. 

- Commentary on Qohelet (Ecclesiastes). 

- Three Letters [GT], the first addressed to Theodoulos and 
his circle, the other two to Eutropios and Eusebios. 

- Six Dialogues with Thaumasios; Letters and treatises ad- 
dressed to Thaumasios, on the mystery of the economy of Christ 

- Three discourses [ET of 1 ; GT]; the first is on perfection, 
or stillness; the second and third on the mystery of baptism. 

- Letter to Hesychios, on the monastic life [ET]. 

- Discourse on Prayer [ET]. 

A considerable number of works still remain to be published. 

17*. ANONYMOUS POETRY. Although it is very difficult to 
assign a date to anonymous poetry (of which a great deal sur- 
vives), the following narrative poems (memre) on biblical topics 
probably belong to the fifth century: 

- Memra on Abraham and Sarah in Egypt (Gen. 12: 10-20) 

- Two memre on the Sacrifice of Isaac (Gen. 22) [ET], The 
second of these makes use of the first, and both give a prominent 
place to Sarah (who is never mentioned in the biblical narrative). 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
- Four memre on Joseph (attributed to Narsai, but probably 


- Memra on Elijah and the Widow of Sarepta (1 Kings 17) 

- Memra on Mary and Joseph [ET]. 

It is likely that many of the dialogue soghyatha dealing with 
biblical characters also belong to the fifth century since they are 
transmitted in both East and West Syriac manuscripts; among these 
will be: 

- Abel and Cain [GT] ; Mary and the Angel [ET] ; Mary and 
the Magi [ET]; John the Baptist and Christ [ET]; The Cherub and 
the Thief [ET]; the Dispute of the Months [ET]. 

Many anonymous madrashe, such as many of those on the 
Virgin Mary [ET], are also likely to belong to the fifth century. 

early manuscripts can sometimes assure a fifth-century date for a 
hagiographical text; in other cases, such dating is less secure, but 
nevertheless probable. The following are the most notable works : 

- Life of Abraham of Qidun and his niece Mary (wrongly 
attributed to Ephrem) [ET for section on Mary]. This was trans- 
lated into Greek and thence into Latin; the Latin served as the basis 
for a play on this subject by the tenth-century nun Hrotswitha of 

- Life of the Man of God [FT, ET]. The earliest fonn of this 
work was composed in Syriac, and this was translated into Greek in 
a re-edited form where the hero is now named Alexis; this ampli- 
fied Greek story was subsequently translated back into Syriac, as 
well as into Latin (which served as the basis for one of the earliest 


Fifth to Mid Seventh Centuries 
pieces of medieval French literature). 

- Martyrdoms of Shmona, Gurya and Habbib [ET]. The cult 
of these Edessene martyrs (probably martyred in 297 and 309) spread 
widely and the Syriac Acts were translated into Greek. 

- Teaching of Addai [ET], Martyrdoms of Sharbel and 
Bars amy a [ET]. The Teaching of Addai recounts in much more 
extended form the legend of the correspondence between king Abgar 
the Black of Edessa and Jesus, which is already recorded by Eusebius 
in Greek translation in his Ecclesiastical History (1.13). Among 
the additional materials are sermons in Edessa by Addai, and an 
early account of the Finding of the Cross (by Protonike, wife of the 
emperor Claudius, rather than by Helena, mother of Constantine, as 
the standard legend has it). The Teaching of Addai has many fea- 
tures in common with the purely legendary martyrdoms (under 
Traj an) of Sharbel and Bars amy a. It is quite likely that this group 
of texts was produced in Edessa in the 420s and 430s in circles 
supporting Ibas against bishop Rabbula. 

- Euphemia and the Goth [ET]. This local Edessene narra- 
tive concerns the story of a young woman of Edessa forcefully mar- 
ried to a Goth who had been billeted in her mother's house. 

- Acts of the Persian martyrs under Shapur II. A large num- 
ber of texts concerning martyrs during Shapur 's persecution of Chris- 
tians in the 340's come down to us; these vary very considerably in 
character, date and reliability. It is likely that the oldest ones were 
written in the early decades of the fifth century, and these include: 
the older of the two (related) Acts of the Catholicos Simeon bar 
Sabba'e, the martyrdoms of Miles, of Pusai, of Martha [ET], and 
thos e of s e veral other martyrs . In the course of time many further 
accounts of martyrs from this, the most severe of persecutions un- 
der the Sasanians, came to be written. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

- Acts of the Persian martyrs under Yezdgerd I and Bahrain 
V. A small group of short but important accounts of martyrdoms in 
the early 420s survives (one of these is attributed to a certain Abgar); 
they include the martyrdoms of Narsai (not the poet!), Tataq, Jacob 
the Notary, the ten martyrs of Beth Garmai, 'Abda, Peroz and 
Mihrshabur. The martyrdom of 'Abda is incomplete, but further 

. information about it is provided in Greek, in Theodoret's Ecclesi- 
astical History V. 39. 

- Acts of the Persian martyrs under Yezdgerd II. Several 
extensive accounts of martyrdoms from the 440s come down, nota- 
bly the cycle of texts concerning Pethion, where the narratives have 
taken on legendary proportions [ET of martyrdom of Anahid]. 

- Life of Symeon the Stylite [ET]. This was composed shortly 
after Symeon's death in 459 by a monk of the monastery attached to 
Symeon's pillar. Together with Theodoret's short eyewitness ac- 
count in his Historia Religiosa, this is the most important source for 
the life of this influential pillar saint. The Syriac Life survives in at 
least two slightly different forms. 

- 'Julian Romance' [ET] . This long work, bitterly hostile to 
the emperor Julian, slain in battle in 363, is primarily concerned 
with his successor, Jovian, who is portrayed in highly eulogistic 
terms. The work (whose opening is lost) was certainly composed 
in Edessa, and probably belongs to the fifth century (rather than the 
sixth, as was formerly thought). 

- Life of Rabbula [ET in preparation], bishop of Edessa 41 1 - 
43 6 . This is in the form of a panegyric. (Rabbula was himself an 
author who wrote in both Greek and Syriac; of the latter, only his 
translation of Cyril of Alexandria's work On True Faith and some 
ecclesiastical canons survive). 

- Prose homily on Abraham and Isaac (Gen .22) [ET]. 


Fifth to Mid Seventh Centuries 

19*.NARSAI.(E; c.399-c.502). Born in the Persian Em- 
pire at ' Ain Duiba in Ma'alta, he was orphaned at an early age and 
was brought up by an uncle who was superior of the monastery of 
KfarMari, near Beth Zabdai; he also spent 10 years as a student at 
the Persian School in Edessa, to which he subsequently returned as 
a teacher, eventually (at an unknown date) becoming its Head. 
Owing to conflict with the bishop Cyrus, Narsai left Edessa (per- 
haps c.47 1 ) for Nisibis, where, with the help of its bishop Barsauma 
he reestablished the School (which no doubt took in the staff and 
students of the Persian School of Edessa when that was closed in 
489 by order of the emperor Zeno); he was still alive in 496, the 
date of the first Statutes of the School of Nisibis [ETJ. The date of 
his death, certainly at a great age, is not known. His surviving 
works are all in verse, being raemre using both the 7:7 and 12: 12 
metres. Some eighty memre, or verse homilies, are preserved, the 
majority dealing with biblical topics (both Old and New Testaments); 
there is also an important group which constitute verse commentar- 
ies on the baptismal and eucharistic rites. Although Narsai is prob- 
ably the most important poet of the Church of the East, only a small 
number of his homilies are so far available in modern translations; 
these include: 

- 6 memre on Creation [FT]. 

- 4 memre on baptism and eucharist (one of these, Homily 
1 7, is almost certainly not by Narsai himself, but must date from the 
sixth century) [ET]. 

- 5 memre on dominical feasts (Nativity, Epiphany, Passion, 
Resurrection, Ascension) [ETJ. These include several passages of 
christological concern, where Narsai opposes the position of Cyril 
of Alexandria. 

-6 memre on Old Testament topics [ET]: Enoch and Elijah, Hood, 
Blessings of Noah, Tower of Babel, Tabernacle, Brazen Serpent. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

- 5 memre on Gospel Parables [FT]: Ten Virgins, Prodigal 
Son, Rich man and Lazarus, Workers in the Vineyeard, Wheat and 

- Memra on the Three Doctors (Diodore, Nestorius, 
Theodore) [FT]. 

The dialogue soghyatha attributed to Narsai are almost cer- 
tainly not by him. 

(b) 5th/6th cent. 

20*.JACOBofSERUGH(W; d.29Nov521). Jacob, per- 
haps the finest Syriac poet after Ephrem, was born at Kuitam on the 
river Euphrates some time in the middle of the fifth century; he 
received his education at the Persian School in Edessa, but reacted 
against its christological teaching . At an unknown date he became 
chorepiskopos in the Serugh area (to SW of Edessa), and in 519 
was appointed bishop of Batnan da-Smgh. He evidently disliked 
and tried to keep out of the contemporary christological controver- 
sies, and it is only from some of his Letters that (under pressure 
from his correspondents) he openly expresses his disapproval of 
the doctrinal formula of Chalcedon (45 1 ). His fame rests chiefly 
on a very large number of surviving memre in the 12-syllable metre; 
some 225 of these have been edited so far; but many more still 
remain unpublished. The vast majority of the memre deal with 
biblical topics, often in a highly imaginative way. In several memre 
(notably those on the Six Days of Creation) the influence of the 
exegesis of Theodore of Mopsuestia can be discerned, a legacy of 
Jacob's education at the Persian School in Edessa. A number of 
homilies are devoted to different aspects of the life of the Virgin 
Mary, and there are also some which deal with particular saints (e.g. 
Simeon the Sty lite); others cover a variety of other topics, includ- 
ing ascetic, liturgical and eschatological themes . Six prose honii- 


5th / 6th Cent. 

lies (turgame) also survive, concerned with the Nativity, Epiphany, 
the Great Fast (Lent), Palm Sunday (Hosha'na), the Passion, and 
the Resurrection. Jacob has also left 43 Letters, prose lives of two 
contemporary saints (Daniel of Galash and Hannina), and various 
madrashe; of these only the Letters have so far been published. 
Three Anaphoras and the Maronite baptismal service are also at- 
tributed to Jacob . As with Nars ai, only a small number of Jacob 's 
works are yet available in modern translations, notably the follow- 

- Memre concerning the Virgin Mary [IT, ET forthcoming]. 

- 7 memre against the Jews [FT]. The sixth of these is in the 
form of a dispute between the Synagogue and the Church. 

- Memre on the dominical Feasts [ET forthcoming]. 

- 4 memre on Creation [FT] 

- Memra on the Veil of Moses [ET]. 

- Memra on Ephrem [ET]. 

- Memra on Simeon the Sty lite [ET]. 

- Prose homilies, or turgame [FT, ET forthcoming]. 

- Various Letters [FT] and other memre [ET]. 

2 1 . SIMEON the POTTER (Quqaya) ( W; fl. early 6th cent.) . 
The poetic talents of this potter from the North Syrian village of 
Geshir were discovered by Jacob of Sarugh. 9 short poems on the 
Nativity [ET] survive, and these gave rise to a popular genre of 
short poems known as quqyoto. 

Dec 523). He was born in the Persian Empire, at Tahel in Beth 
Garmai. According to a late biography he studied first at the mon- 
astery of Mar Gabriel in Tur 'Abdin before going on to the Persian 
School in Edessa. There he was one of a number of students who 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

reacted against the School's dyophysite, or two-nature, Christological 
tradition (others included Jacob of Serugh and Simeon of Beth 
Arsham); he became a strong opponent of the Council of Chalcedon 
and played an active part in the various controversies of the time. 
In 485 he became metropolitan of Mabbug (consecrated on 18 Au- 
gust). After the death of the emperor Anastasius in 5 1 8 the anti- 
Chalcedonian bishops were exiled as a result of the pro-Chalcedonian 
policy of the new emperor, Justin I. Philoxenos was exiled first to 
Gangra (in Paphlagonia) and then (c. 520/1) to Philippoupolis (in 
Thrace), where he died, reputedly from suffocation by smoke from 
the public baths. 

Philoxenos was the most important Syrian Orthodox theolo- 
gian writing in Syriac of his time. Although his own knowledge of 
Greek was probably not very profound, he became aware of the 
need to translate key Greek texts, such as the New Testament and 
the Creed, with greater fidelity to the Greek original, and so he 
sponsored revised translations of these (the New Testament revi- 
sion was undertaken by Polycarp, his chorepiskopos, and completed 
in 508). The following are his most important works : 

- 'Admonition on (the monastic) way of life', in 13 memre 
[ET, FT]. This important work of monastic guidance survives in a 
large number of manuscripts, indicating its popularity. 

- Ten memre on the phrase "One of the holy Trinity was 
embodied and suffered"; also known as Ihe memre against Habbib' 
[LT/FT] . At the end there is an important florilegium, with short 
excerpts from both Greek and Syriac writers. This is an early work, 
dating from c.482/4. 

- 'Three memre on the Trinity and on the Incarnation' ; also 
known as 'the Book of Opinions (Ktaba d-re'yane)' [LT]. 

- Commentary on the Prologue of St John [FT]. This impor- 
tant work is not so much a commentary as a theological treatise 


5th / 6th Cent. 

focusing on John ch. 1 ; it must date from shortly after 508, since it 
mentions the revision of the Peshitta New Testament which he spon- 
sored (Philoxenos also explains why it was necessary). 

- Commentary on St Matthew and St Luke [ET]. This only 
survives in fragmentary form. 

- Memra on the Annunciation [GT]. This perhaps buongs to 
the previous item. 

- Memra on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit [ET,FT]. This 
is concerned with the question whether the Holy Spirit departs from 

someone who sins. 

- Letters. A considerable number of letters survive (some- 
times only in excerpts), and some of these constitute lengthy theo- 
logical treatises . The following have been published: 

- Letter on Faith, addressed to the Monks [ET, FT]. 

- Letter to the emperor Zeno, on the incarnation of God 
the Word [ET]. 

- First Letter to the monks of Beth Gaugal [ET]. 

- Second Letter to the monks of Beth Gaugal [FT]. 

- Letter to the monks of Senoun [FT]. 

- Letter to the monks of Tell 4 Ada. 

- Letter to Patricius of Edessa [FT]. An abbreviated form 
of this monastic letter was included in the Greek translation of 
the 'First Part' of Isaac of Nineveh's writings, featuring there 
under Isaac's name. 

- Letter to Abraham and Orestes, priests of Edessa, con- 
cerning Stephen bar Sudhaili [ET]. 

- Letter to Abu Ya'far, the stratelates (general) of Hirta d- 
Na'man. The authenticity of this is uncertain. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

- Letter to the Palestinian monks [FT]. 

- Letter to the Lector Maron from Anazarba [FT]. 

- Letter to Shem'on, abbot of the monastery of Tell 'Ada 

- Letter to the orthodox monks in the East [FT]. 

- Letter to someone recently converted from the world 
(i.e., a novice) [ET]. 

- Letter to a convert from Judaism [FT]. 

A Letter on the three stages of the monastic life is also attrib- 
uted to Philoxenus, but this is certainly incorrect; the work prob- 
ably belongs to Joseph the Seer (see 67, below). 

- Excepts on Prayer [ET]. 

- Three anaphoras and a short baptismal rite are attributed to 
Philoxenos, but whether he is really the author is far from certain. 

23 * . ISAAC of ANTIOCH . The conventional designation 
'Isaac of Antioch' in fact covers several different poets by the name 
of Isaac. In the seventh century Jacob of Edessa already distin- 
guished three different people: (1) Isaac of Amid, said to have 
been a pupil of Ephrem, who visited Rome and who served as a 
priest in Amid (other sources state that this Isaac was a pupil of 
Ephrem's pupil Zenobius, and not of Ephrem himself); he is prob- 
ably the author of a surviving memra on Constantinople; (2) Isaac 
'the Great', from Edessa, who flourished at the time of Peter the 
Fuller, patriarch of Antioch (d. 488). This Isaac is probably the 
author of the long poem on the Parrot in Antioch which sang the 
Trisagion with Peter the Fuller's additional wording 'who was cru- 
cified for us' ; (3) Another Isaac from Edessa, who began as an anti- 
Chalcedonian, but under bishop Asklepios of Edessa (522-525) 



6th Century 

became Chalcedonian. In addition to these three Isaacs, belonging 
respectively to the first half of the fifth century, the second half of 
the fifth century and the early sixth century, there was probably a 
fourth poet Isaac, designated 'Isaac the Solitary ' . Nearly 200 memre 
attributed to one or other Isaac survive, but of these only 69 have 
been published so far, and for the most part it is unclear to .which of 
the Isaacs these should be allocated. Of the homilies that have 
been published only very few correspond with those to be found in 
the earliest manuscripts (sixth century), where the author is simply 
designated 'Isaac the teacher'. Very little of the corpus of homi- 
lies under the name of Isaac is available in modern translation: 

- Memra on Constantinople [ET]. 

- Memra against the Jews [ET]. 

- Two memre on the Incarnation [FT]. 

A facing Latin translation is available for the 37 texts by Isaac 
edited by Bickell (1973); these include some madrashe, 

24. SYMMACHUS (W). This otherwise unknown author 
has left an imaginative Life of Abel [ET]. He is probably not the 
same man as the Symmachus who wrote a commentary on Song of 
Songs 6:10 - end (to supplement that of the Syriac translation of 
Gregory of Nyssa's commentary on that book). 

(c) 6th cent. 

25. ANONYMOUS CHRONICLE, often known as 
that of 'Joshua the Stylite' (W; first quarter of 6th cent.). This 
local Edessene chronicle, which gives a detailed account of events 
in the Edessa area from 495-507, has been preserved through its 
incorporation into the late eighth-century Zuqnin Chronicle (= 69 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
26. STEPHEN bar SUDHAILI (W; fl. early 6th cent.). A 
speculative thinker with pantheist tendencies, he was probably 
the author of the Book of the Holy Hierotheos [ET], which 
purports to be by Hierotheos, the teacher of Dionysius the 
Areopagite. He was the recipient of letters from both Philoxenus 
and Jacob of Semgh . 

27. SERGIUS of RESH'AINA (W; d.536). A priest and 
archiatros, Sergius received his education in Alexandria; he is chiefly 
famous for his translations from Greek, which included several of 
Galen's medical writings and the Dionysian Corpus (Sergius' trans- 
lation of this was subsequently revised at the end of the seventh 
century by Phokas of Edessa). (Translations of Porphyry's Eisagoge, 
or introduction to Aristotle's Logical works, and of Arisotle's Cat- 
egories have been attributed to Sergius, but this cannot be correct). 
His surviving original writings include: 

- a treatise on the spiritual life, serving as an introduction to 
his translation of Dionysius the Areopagite [FT]. 

- Two introductions to Aristotle's Logic, a longer one ad- 
dressed to Theodore of Karkh Juddan, and a shorter one to Philotheos 

d.c.548). Syrian Orthodox bishop of Beth Arsham (on the Tigris), 
to whom are ascribed two letters [ET] of great historical impor- 
tance concerning the Christian martyrs of Najran (in 518, 522 or 
523 : the precise date is uncertain), and of a polemical treatise 'On 
Barsauma [of Nisibis] and the Sect of the Nestorians', which deals 
with the spread of dyophysite christology in the East, as seen from 
a hostile perspective. It has been suggested that Shem'on is also 
the author of the Book of the Himyarites [ET], which is a further, 


6th Century 

slightly later, account of the martyrdoms (the work is unfortunately 
not preserved complete); this, however, is doubtful, and indeed the 
two Letters may be later re workings of an original letter/letters by 

29.ELIAS(W; fl. mid 6th cent). Author of the Life of John, 
bishop of Telia [LT], addressed to his spiritual brethren Mar Sergius 
and Mar Paul. 

30*. DANIEL of SALAH(W; 11. mid 6th cent.). Author of 
an extensive and important commentary on the Psalms, only small 
extracts of which have so far been published. 

31*. CYRUS of EDESS A (E; fl. 2nd quarter of 6th cent). 
Since he was known as 'of Edessa' he was probably born at Edessa. 
He was a disciple of Mar Aba (Catholicos 540-552) during the time 
Mar Aba taught at the School of Nisibis (c.533/8). He taught at the 
School of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, and became the director there. Sub- 
sequently, after Mar Aba's death, he founded a monastery-school at 
Hirta (al-Hira). He is the author of six 'Explanations' of the main 
dominical commemorations [ET] (the Fast, Pascha, the Passion, 
Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost). 

32. THOMAS of EDESSA (E; tl. 2nd quarter of 6th cent.). 
Pupil of Mar Aba and successor to him as a teacher at the School of 
Nisibis. His Expositions of the Feasts of the Nativity and of 
Epiphany survive (only the former has been edited in full). 

33. CHRONICLE of EDESSA (W; mid 6th cent.). This 
chronicle [ET, GT, LT], which may well be based on the local 
Edessene archives, opens with a famous account of a flood in Edessa 
in November 201, in the course of which, among other buildings, 
the sanctuary (haykla) of the church of the Christians' was destroyed. 
The other entries (AD 540 is the latest) are much shorter, and the 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
absence of any mention of Addai is especially to be noted. 

34*.JOHNofEPHESUS(W; c.507-c.588). Bom near Amid 
he entered the monastery of Mar John Urtaya at Amid at the ase of 
1 5. In the 530s he travelled to Antioch, Egypt and Constantinople 
and became abbot of the monastery of Mar Mare near 
Constantinople. He was sent by the emperor Justinian to convert 
pagans m Asia Minor. About 558 he was consecrated metropolitan 
of Ephesus by Jacob Baradaeus. During the reign of Justin II he 
was imprisoned for a time, due to his opposition to the Council of 
Chalcedon. His two surviving works are of the greatest importance 
for sixth-century Church history. 

- Lives of the Eastern Saints [ET]. This work consists of 58 
short pieces on contemporary Syrian Orthodox holy men and women 
mostly from the Amid region, and many of whom John had known 
in person. 

- Ecclesiastical History [LT]. This work covered from the 
time of Julius Caesar up to 588, presumably shortly before his death 
It was arranged in three books, of which only the third is preserved 
complete [ET]. Book I, covering up to 449 is completely losf for 
Book II, covering 449-57 1 , there is an extensive adaptation form- 
ing the third part of the Chronicle of Zuqnin (= 69 below), as well 
as a few fragments of the original work. 

35. PETER of KALLINIKOS (W; d.591 ). Syrian Orthodox 
Patriarch of Antioch (581 -591 ). He appears to have written both in 
Synac and m Greek; one work definitely written in Syriac is a 
verse memra on the Crucifixion [ET], and at least one [ET] of his 
seven letters that survive (in part) was also written in Syriac His 
other letters, and three theological treatises, all of which survive 
only in Syriac translation, were all originally written in Greek: these 
are: a Treatise against Proba and John Barbur; the extensive work 
in three books against Damian, Patriarch of Alexandria, [ET] (books 


6th Century 

I and II. 1-5 are lost); and a Treatise against the Tritheists [ET]. 

36*. Ps.ZACH ARIAS RHETOR (W; late 6th cent.). This 
unknown author of an important Ecclesiastical History incorporated 
into Books 3-6 of his work an adapted translation of part of an 
Ecclesiastical History by the Greek writer Zacharias Rhetor [ET for 
Books 3-12]. Books 1-2 contain (among other things) Syriac trans- 
lations of the History of Joseph and Aseneth, the Acts of St Silvester 
of Rome, the Finding of the relics of St Stephen, the Legend of the 
Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, and the Letter of Proclus to the Arme- 
nians. Books 3-6 (based on Zacharias) cover the years 450-491 ; 
Books 7-8 cover the reigns of the emperors Anastasius (491-518) 
and Justin I (518-27), while Books 9-12 concern the reigns of 
Justinian (527-65 ) and Justin II up to the year 569 (Book 1 1 is com- 
pletely lost, and of Books 10 and 12 only fragments are preserved). 

37. AHUDEMMEH (W? 6th cent.). The identity of this 
Ahudemmeh, author of some short treatises on anthropology, is 
uncertain; it is possible, but far from certain, that he is to be identi- 
fied as the Syrian Orthodox metropolitan of the Orient by that name 
who died in 575, and whose interesting biography survives [FT]. 
He must have been living in the Sasanian empire, and his anthro- 
pology seems to be more influenced by Iranian than by Greek ideas. 
Two works are known: 

- On the composition of man [FT]. 

- On man as a microcosm [LT]; this latter work is transmit- 
ted with a text of quite different (and probably Greek) origin, by a 
certain Antipatros. 

38. ABRAHAM of NATHPAR (E; second half of 6th cent.). 
Author of several monastic works, the majority of which remain 

39. ANONYMOUS LITERATURE (6th cent.). 

Mention might be made of the following, all probably be- 
longing to the sixth century; 


Brief outline ot Syr. Lit. 

(a) Poetry: Much anonymous poetry is likely to belong to 
the sixth century, e.g. many of the dialogue soghyatha, and a beauti- 
ful madrasha on Epiphany [ET] . 

(b) Prose: Amongst the many anonymous works which prob- 
ably belong to the sixth century the following might be singled out: 

- *Cave of Treasures [ET], This is a collection of legendary 
biblical traditions, addressed to an unknown Nemesius . The work 
covers from Creation to Pentecost, a period which is allocated 5500 
years, with the end of each millennium specifically indicated. Many 
non-biblical traditions, often of Jewish origin, are included, such as 
the appearance of Noah's fourth son, Yonton, who is portrayed as 
the teacher of wisdom to Nimrod. Though some of its sources go 
back much earlier, it is generally thought to have reached its present 
form in about the 6th century; the attribution to Ephrem, found in 
some manuscripts, is certainly incorrect. 

- Three Homilies on Epiphany [FT]. 

- Three Homilies on the Sinful Woman (Luke 7) [FT]. 

- Homily on the High Priest (Hebr. 5:7) [FT]. 

- Life of the East Syrian Catholicos and confessor Mar 
Aba (d.552), and Lives of two East Syrian martyrdom, of Grigor 
(Piragushnasp) and Yazidpaneh, both put to death under Khosrau 
I (53 1-579). These long accounts are of particular interest for 
the light they shed on Christianity in the Persian Empire in the 
sixth century. 

- Life of Ahudemmeh (d.575) [FT], Syrian Orthodox metro- 
politan of the Orient and 'apostle of the Arabs'. 


6th / 7th Century 

(cf) 6th/7th cent. 

40. BARHADBESHABBA 'ARBAYA (E; fix. 600). 
Barhadbeskabba was a professor at the School of Nisibis, originat- 
ing from Beth 'Arabaye. Modern scholars have usually distin- 
guished him from Barhadbeshabba, bishop of Hal wan, though this 
is by no means certain. 

- Ecclesiastical History [FT]. This work, in 32 chapters, is 
entitled in the single surviving manuscript 'History of the holy Fa- 
thers who were persecuted for the sake of truth' . Most of the book 
deals with, first, the Arian controversy of the fourth century, and 
then the conflict between Nestorius and Cyril over Christology. 
Several chapters are in fact short biographies of individual figures, 
such as Athanasius, Gregory the Wonderworker, Basil, Diodore, John 
Chrysosostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Nestorius. The final 
two chapters are devoted to Narsai and Abraham (d.569). 

41. BARHADBESHABBA of HALWAN. (E; fl. early 7th 
cent.). He was bishop of Halwan and a signatory of the synod of 
the Catholicos Gregory in 605; though he is usually distinguised 
from Barhadbeshabba 'Arbaya, it is possible that they are one and 
the same person. 

- Book of the Cause of the Foundation of the Schools [FT]. 
The earlier part concerns 'schools' to be found in the Bible and in 
Classical Greece, the School of Zoroaster, that of Christ 'the Great 
Teacher' and the Christian Schools of Alexandria and Antioch; the 
latter part of the work is devpted to the Persian School of Edessa 
and (especially) the School of Nisibis, up to the time of the contro- 
versial head of that school, Hnana (of whom the author approves). 
The Statutes of the School of Nisibis (496, revised 604) also sur- 
vive [ET]. 

42. SHUBHALMARAN (E; fl. late 6th/ early 7th cent.). 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
Author of several monastic texts, including one entitled 'the Book 
of Gifts ' [ET in preparation] . 

43*. BABAI the GREAT (E; c.551-628). He was born in 
Beth ' Ainatha in Beth Zabdai, and after receiving his basic educa- 
tion there he studied at the School of Nisibis under Abraham of 
Beth Rabban. Subsequently he entered the 'Great Monastery' on 
Mount Izlafounded in 571 by Abraham of Kashkar (d.588). After 
some years he left, to found his own monastery and school in 
neighbouring Beth Zabdai. In 604 he returned to the Great Monas- 
tery, having been appointed superior, in succession to Dadisho'. 
He was strict in his discipline and carried out a number of reforms ; 
these were not always appreciated and many monks left (Babai's 
Canons survive). On the death of the Catholicos Gregory in 608/9 
no new election to the office of Catholicos was allowed by the shah 
Khosro II; as a result the Church of the East was administered 
during the interregnum (609-628) jointly by the archdeacon of 
Seleucia-Ctesiphon, Mai' Aba, and by Babai, who was appointed 
visitor of the monasteries. He died in 628, not long after the death 
of Khosro II. His surviving works cover Christology, asceticism, 
hagiography and liturgy: 


- Book of the Union. [LT]. 'On the divinity and humanity 
(of Christ) and on the prosopon of the union' , in 7 books (memre) . 
The seventh book seems originally to have belonged to a separate 

- Against those who say 'Just as the body and soul are one 
qnoma, so too God the Word and the Man are one qnoma' [LT]. 

- An exceipt, to the effect that two natures implies two qnome, 
is preserved in a later collection of Christological texts [ET]. 


6th / 7th Century 


- Commentary on the Centuries of Evagrius [GTj. 

- Commentary on Mark the Monk's work, The Spiritual 
Law (unpublished). 

- Canons for monks [ET]. 

- Ascetic counsels (unpublished). 


- Life of GiwargisMihramgushnasp, martyred in 615, aged 

- Martyrdom of Christina (only the beginning survives). 
(A number of other biographical works are lost). 


- A number of teshbhata attributed to Babai the Great are to 
be found in the Hudra. 

Babai the Great is to be distinguished from his contemporary 
Babai bar Nsibnaye ('son of Nisibene parents'), who is the author 
of some liturgical poems and a monastic Letter [ET] transmitted 
under the name of the Catholicos Baboi. 

44*. MARTYRIUS/SAHDONA. (E; il. first half of 7th 
cent.). Born in Halmon, in Beth Nuhadra. His monastic vocation 
was due to the influence of his mother and a local saintly woman 
named Shirin. He became a monk at the famous monastery of 
Beth 'Abe, and c. 635/40 was appointed bishop of Beth Garmai. 
His more Chalcedonian doctrinal position on Christology (advocat- 
ing one, not two, qnome in the incarnate Christ) came under criti- 
cism at a synod and he was deposed, only to be reinstated shortly 
after, but then once again deposed. Though his Christology is deli- 



Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
nitely in the East Syrian strongly dyophysite tradition, his 
Chalcedonian leanings have resulted in his work being transmitted 
only in Chalcedonian tradition. 

- The Book of Perfection [FT]: this long work is his great 
masterpiece, and one of the finest products of the East Syrianmo- 
nastic tradition. The beginning is unfortunately lost. The work 
falls into two parts. In Part 1 the first two sections (mostly lost) 
dealt with the dogmatic foundations of the moral life of Christians, 
while the third and fourth sections provide an introduction to the 
'perfect' (i.e. monastic) life, both cenobitic and solitary. Part H, in 
1 4 chapters, is devoted to the individual virtues. The strong bibli- 
cal basis of the work is very noticeable, and it contains an excep- 
tionally large number of biblical quotations. 

- Five Letters [FT]. 

- Maxims on Wisdom [FT]. 

^ 45.ISHO'YAHBII(E;d.646). Catholicos of the Church of 
the East from 628-646, and author of a Letter to a certain Rabban 
Abraham on 'How we should confess the sinele prosopon of Christ' 

46.JOHNoftheSEDRE(W; d.648). Syrian Orthodox Pa- 
triarch of Antioch (630/1-648). John acquired his epithet 'of the 
Sedre' (d-Sedraw(hy)) from having composed liturgical prayers 
known as 'sedre' (he may even have introduced the genre himself). 
Besides the sedre (only a few of which can definitely be ascribed to 
him) John has left the following works: 

-Two 4 plerophoriai'[GT], or doctrinal polemics; one of these 
is directed against the followers of Julian of Halicamassus (and con- 
tains an extensive florilegium, or anthology of short patristic ex- 
cerpts), and the other is against the dyophysites. 


6th / 7th Century 

- Discourse on the Myron [GT]. 

- An Anaphora [GT]. 

- A Letter, describing a dialogue with an unnamed Muslim 
emir [FT]. This interfaith dialogue is said to have taken place on 
Sunday May 9th of an unnamed year; both 639 and 644 have 
been suggested, and if either of these is correct, this represents 
by far the earliest Muslim-Christian dialogue; it is possible, how- 
ever, that the work belongs rather later than John's time. 

47. MARUTHA (W; d.649). Born near Balad, he studied 
for ten years at the monastery of Mar Zakkai, Kallinikos; later he 
was connected with the monastery of Mar Mattai, and was appointed 
Maphrian of Tagrit c. 628/9. His Life [FT] was written by his suc- 
cessor as Maphrian, Denha (d.660), who lists his writings, only some 
of which survive: 

- Homily on the Blessing of the Water at Epiphany [ET]. 

- An account of the 'Nestorianisation' of the Church of 
Persia, preserved in Michael the Syrian's Chronicle [FT]. 

- An anaphora and some prayers are also attributed to him. 

48. GREGORY OF CYPRUS (E; first half 7th cent.). Little 
is known of this Persian monk from Susiana who spent some time 
in Cyprus before returning to a monastery on Mount Izla. Of his 
three Letters and seven treatises on the monastic life only the trea- 
tise entitled 'On holy contemplation (theoria), which is translated 
in Syriac as "divine vision'" has been so far published [LT], 

49. ANONYMOUS LITERATURE (early 7th cent.). 

- Verse homily on Alexander the Great [ET, GT]; this sur- 
vives in several somewhat different forms, and is sometimes wrongly 
attributed to Jacob of Seragh, but in fact it must be a product of 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

north Mesopotamia and belong to c.629/30, shortly after Heraclius' 
successful campaigns into the Sasanian Empire, in the course of 
which he recovered the relics of the Cross (which had been taken 
by the Persians when they captured Jerusalem in 614). 

- Anonymous hagiographical texts from this period include 
the Life of the East Syrian Catholicos Sabrisho' (d.604) and the 
Life ofFebroniaof Nisibis [ET]. 


Although with hindsight the Arab invasions represent a fun- 
damental political break in the history of Western Asia, there is 
nevertheless very much a sense of continuity in Syriac writers of 
the period. 

(a) Second half 7th cent. 

50. SEVERUS SEBOKHT (W; d.666/7). Bishop of the mon- 
astery of Qenneshre, and one of the most learned men of his time in 
the fields of astronomy and philosophy. Several works of his m 
both these fields survive, notably treatises on the Astrolabe and on 
the Constellations, letters on points of logic addressed to Aitalaha 
of Nineveh and to a periodeutes Yaunan, and a treatise on Syllo- 
gisms (written in 638); he also translated from Middle Persian a 
compendium on logic written by Paul the Persian for the Persian 

51. GABRIEL of QATAR (E; fl.mid 7th cent.). Author of 
an important commentary on the liturgy [part ET] . 

52. ABRAHAM bar LIPEH of QATAR (E; 11. mid 7th cent.). 
Author of a short commentary on the liturgical Offices [LT] . 

53. ANONYMOUS (E; third quarter of 7th century). Un- 


Mid 7th / 13th Century 

known author of the Khuzistan Chronicle [LT; ET in preparation], 
covering the end of the Sasanian period and the beginnings of the 
Arab conquests. It has been suggested that, the author of most of it 
is Elijah, bishop of Merv. 

54*. ISHO'YAHB MI (E; d.659). Son of Bastomag of 
Kuplana (on the Greater Zab), a prominent landowner. He became 
a monk at the nearby monastery of Beth 'Abe, and c.627 was ap- 
pointed bishop of Nineveh. Some ten years later he was raised to 
metropolitan of Arbela, and in 649 he was appointed Catholicos. 
Isho'yahb is credited with extensive liturgical reforms, and among 
other things he limited the number of anaphoras in use to the cur- 
rent three (the Apostles Addai and Man, Theodore, and Nestorius). 

- Letters [LTj. The extensive collection of 1 06 Letters pro- 
vide a great deal of information on the life of the Church of the East 
at a critical time in its history, under the early years of Arab rale. In 
the manuscripts the letters are divided into three groups: those writ- 
ten while he was bishop (52), those from the time when he was 
metropolitan (32), and those belonging to his office as Catholicos 
22); in some cases, however, the allocation is certainly incorrect. 

- Life of Isho 'sabran, a martyr from the last years of the Sasa- 
nian Empire. 

55*. ISAAC of NINEVEH (ISAAC the SYRIAN). (E; fl. 
end 7th century). Born and educated in Beth Qatraye, he became a 
monk and during the catholicosate of George (661-680/1) he was 
consecrated bishop of Nineveh (Mosul); five months later he re- 
signed and retired as a solitary to the mountains of Khuzistan, where 
he was associated with the monastery of Rabban Shabur. Through 
the Greek translation of the 'First Part' of his works he has proved 
to be the most influential of all Syriac monastic writers, and he 
continues to exert a strong influence in monastic circles in the twen- 
tieth century, especially on Mount Athos and in the Egyptian desert 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
monasteries. The following are his surviving works: 

- The First Part' [ET]: this is a collection of 82 discourses 
of varying length and character (a few are in the form of questions 
and answers or are letters). Most of these discourses were trans- 
lated into Greek in the Chalcedonian monastery of St Saba in Pal- 
estine probably in the eighth century (the translators' names are 
known: Abramios andPatrikios). For some unexplained reason, 
five other texts by two other Syriac writers were also included in 
this translation under Isaac's name: four of these are by John Saba 
(John of Dalyatha), and one is an abbreviated form of Philoxenos' 
Letter to Patrikios) . Arabic translations were made from both the 
Syriac and from the Greek; the Greek was the source of many other 
translations, including Georgian and Slavonic in the Middle Ages, 
and numerous other languages in modern times. 

- 'The Second Part' [IT + ET]: this contains 42 texts, of 
which the third consists of four 'Centuries' of Kephalaia (or 'Head- 
ings ' ) on spiritual knowledge . Though there is evidence that this 
Second Part was read in Chalcedonian monastic circles, it was never 
translated into Greek, and indeed it was only in recent years that a 
complete manuscript of the Syriac original has come to light. 

- 'Book of Grace' [ET of excerpts]: it is uncertain whether 
this work (not yet published) is really by Isaac: it is quite possible 
that it is by his contemporaiy Shem' on the Graceful. 

56. SHEM'ON the GRACEFUL (Shem'on d-Taybutheh; E; 
late 7th century) : He gained fame as a medical doctor in the time of 
the Catholicos Hnanisho' (680-700); He subsequently became a 
monk and was a disciple of Rabban Shabur. A number of short 
writings on the spiritual life survive [part ET, IT]. Among the 
topics he covers are: the withdrawal of grace as a result of error; 
the three noetic altars according to the teaching of the Fathers; the 
faculties of the inner person, and their working; different kinds of 


Mid 7th / 13th Century 

prayer; the structure of the heart and its workings (containing a 
physical description as well). 

57.DADISHO' (E; late 7th cent). Like Isaac, Dadisho' 
originated from Beth Qatraye, and was later connected with the 
Monastery of Rabban Shabur. His surviving works include: 

- Commentary on the Asceticon of Abba Isaiah [FT]. 

- Commentary on the Paradise of the Egyptian Fathers, 
compiled by 'Enanisho' (unpublished except for a few excerpts).' 

- On the Solitude of the Seven Weeks [ET]. This deals 
with the theme of stillness (hesychia) during solitary retreats lasting 
seven weeks. 

- Various other shorter texts on the spiritual life [ET]. 

58. JOHN/IOHANNAN bar PENKAYE (E; late 7th cent.). 
His epithet indicates that his parents were from Fenek, on the Tigris 
(E. of Tur 'Abdin). He was a monk, first of the monastery of Mar 
John of Kamul, and then of the monastery of Mar Bassima. Later 
writers confused him with John Saba/John of Dalyatha. Several 
works of his survive (for the large part unedited); of these the most 
important is: 

- Ktaba d-rish melle, or summary history of the world, in 1 5 
books (ET, FT of Book 1 5). The first four books cover from cre- 
ation to Herod the Great; book 5 is on demons; 6-8 are largely on 
typology in the Old Testament; book 9 concerns cults of pagan 
peoples (with some important information on Zoroastrianism); 10- 
13 are devoted to the life of Christ and of his disciples; book 14 
covers the history of the Church up to the Arab conquests, while the 
final book concerns the last decades of the seventh century (for 
which period it constitutes a rare contemporary local source). 

59. ANONYMOUS (Pseudo-Methodius), Apocalypse [ET, 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
GT]. This immensely influential apocalypse was probably com- 
posed c.691 in north Mesopotamia; it was soon translated into 
Greek, and then into Latin, where it had a great influence on other 
apocalyptic writings. Within a brief space it compasses from cre- 
ation to the writer's present time when he sees the Ishmaelites (i.e. 
Arabs) as heralding the advent of the last times; it is at this point 
that the apocalypse proper commences, dealing with the last Ro- 
man (Byzantine) emperor, the advent of the 'son of perdition', and 
the final victory over him as the Cross ascends to heaven, together 
with the imperial crown. The work makes use of a number of 
earlier Syriac works, notably the Cave of Treasures, the 'Julian 
Romance' and the poem on Alexander. 


-Life of Rabban bar 'Idta(E; d.612). A prose Life by John 
the Persian (third quarter of 7th cent.) is known only in a verse 
resume of the 11th cent.[ET]. 

- Life of Rabban Hormizd (E; 6th/7th cent.). A prose life is 
attributed to a monk Shem'on (7th cent.) [ET]; there are also two 
much later verse lives. 

- Life of Maximus the Confessor (W; d.662). A hostile 
monothelete Life [ET] of this dyothelete confessor was probably 
produced within a few decades of Maximus' death; according to 
this, Maximus originated from Palestine, and not Constantinople 
(as stated in the Greek Life). 

(b) 7th/8th cent. 

61*.JACOBofEDESSA(W; c.640-5 vi708). Born at 'En 
Deba in the Antioch region, he studied first under Severos Sebokht 
at the monastery of Qenneshre on the Euphrates, and then in Alex- 
andria. He was appointed bishop of Edessa c.684, but resigned 


Mid 7th / 13th Century 

owing to the the lax attitude of the hierarchy concerning the obser- 
vance of the canons. He retired first to a monastery at Kaisum 
(near Samosata), but was subsequently invited to the monastery of 
Eusebona where he taught Greek and other subjects for 1 1 years. 
The presence there of a group of monks hostile to Greek studies led 
eventually to his departure for the monastery of Tell ; Ada, where 
he spent 9 years, during which he worked on his revision of the 
Syriac Old Testament. On the death of bishop Habbib, his succes- 
sor in the see of Edessa, Jacob returned to Edessa again as bishop, 
but 4 months later, on a visit to Tell 'Ada to collect his books, he 
died. His surviving works are: 

- Commentary on the Hexaemeron (six days of creation) [LT]. 
This learned work, incorporating a great deal of scientific materi- 
als, was left unfinished at his death, but was completed by George, 
bishop of the Arab tribes. 

- Scholia on the Old Testament [part ETJ. 

- Liturgical revisions: these include the anaphora of James, 
the baptismal rite attributed to Severus, and the consecration of 
the water at Epiphany. 

- Exposition of the Liturgy. 

- Treatise on the Myron [ETj. 

- Canons, often in the form of questions and answers [part 


- Chronicle; only fragments survive. Jacob covered up to 
691/2, and a later hand supplemented up to 709/10. [LT]. 

- Letters, on a wide variety of learned subjects. A group 
of seventeen are addressed to John the Stylite of Litarba. 

- A philosophical Enchiridion, or handbook of philosophi- 
cal terms. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

- A Grammar, of which only fragments survive. Jacob 
was the deviser of a predecessor of the present West Syrian sys- 
tem of vowel signs. 

- An apologia against the Chalcedonian clergy of Harran 
(written while he was still a deacon). 

- Some verse letters, two of which are addressed to a cer- 
tain Qurisona. 

Jacob was also a translator and careful reviser of earlier 
translations. His translations include the Testamentum Domini, 
the Acts of the Council of Carthage in 256 (Jacob's translation is 
dated 686/7), and the History of the Rechabites. His revisions 
of earlier translation cover Severus' Cathedral Homilies (in 700/ 
1), and Hymns (often misleadingly know as the 'Octoechos'), 
Aristotle's Categories, and several books of the Old Testament; 
for the last he combined elements of the Peshitta, Syro-Hexapla, 
and at the same time made use of some Greek manuscripts. 

62*.GEORGE, bishop of the ARAB TRIBES (W; d. Feb. 
724). George was a disciple of Athanasius II, and became Syrian 
Orthodox bishop of the Christian Arab Tribes in 686. He is the last 
representative of the Syrian Orthodox scholar bishops of the sev- 
enth century who were well grounded in Greek scientific and philo- 
sophical studies. His surviving works consist of the following: 

- the completion of Book 7 of Jacob of Edessa's Commen- 
tary on the Six Days of Creation (Hexaemeron), which Jacob had 
left unfinished at his death. [LT]. 

- a revised translation, accompanied by introductions and 
commentaries, of the earlier books of Aristotle's logical works 
(the Organon). 

- scholia on the Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzus. 


8th Century 

- a commentary on the liturgy (comprising baptism and 
the eucharist [ET]; and the myron [GT]). 

- a collection of letters. These are of great interest and 
deal with a variety of topics, among which are: the identity of 
Aphrahat, and his views on the human soul and spirit; chrono- 
logical and astronomical matters: difficult passages in the letters 
of Jacob of Edessa. [GT]. 

- a verse homily (memra) on Se veins of Antioch [ET]. A 
number of other memre are attributed to George, but there is uncer- 
tainty concerning their authenticity (the one on the myron is also 
attributed to Jacob of Semgh in some manuscripts). 

(c) 8th cent. 

63. ANONYMOUS author of 'Diyarbekir Commentary' (E; 
early 8th cent.?). A manuscript once in Diyarbekir contains an im- 
portant anonymous commentary on Genesis and Exodus 1-9 [FT]. 

64. SERGIUS the STYLITE of Gusit (W; early 8th cent.). 
Author of an apologetic treatise against the Jews [ET]. 

65. ELIA (W; first half 8th cent.). Author of a Letter, ad- 
dressed to Leo of Harran [LT], setting out in 12 sections the reasons 
why he left the Chalcedonians and became Syrian Orthodox. 

66*. JOHN ofDALYATHA (JOHN SABA). (E; fl. mid 8th 
cent.). There has been considerable confusion over the identity of 
this monastic writer, but it now appears that John of Dalyatha is the 
same person as John Saba (the Elder), but quite different from John 
of Phenek. He seems to be been born in N.Iraq and became a 
monk in the region of Mount Qardu (where Noah's Ark landed, 
according to the Peshitta, following Jewish tradition) . His epithet 
'of Dalyatha (the vine tendrils)' probably derives from the name of. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
his monastery. Nothing is known of the details of his life, but his 
writings indicate that he was someone with a profound experience 
of the mystical life. Four short texts by him were translated into 
Greek along with the works of Isaac of Nineveh and so circulate in 
Greek (aiufdependent translations) under Isaac's name. 

- Letters [FT]: variously numbered as 48 or 51. 

- Discourses, or Homilies: again, variously numbered as 25 or 28. 

- Kephalaia, or Headings on Spiritual Knowledge. 

Only the first of these three groups of texts has so far been 

67*. JOSEPH HAZZAYA (the SEER). (E; fl. mid 8th cent.). 
His parents were Zoroastrians. At the age of seven he was taken 
captive in a raid and sold as a slave, first to an Arab in Sinjar, and 
then to a Christian in the Qardu area; there, impressed by the life of 
the monks at the monastery of John of Kamul, he sought baptism, 
and then, being liberated by his owner, he became a monk m Beth 
Nuhadra After a period living as a solitary, he was made superior 
of the monastery of Mar Bassima in the Qardu region for a while, 
after which he again spent time as a solitary, but was then again 
made superior of a monastery (that of Rabban Bokhtisho'). His 
brother also converted to Christianity, with the name 'Abdisho, 
and many of Joseph's writings were transmitted under his brother s 
name In his Catalogue of Syriac writers 'Abdisho' of Nisibis men- 
tions numerous works by Joseph, but only a few have survived, of 
which the following have been published): 

- Letter on the Three Degrees of the Spiritual Life [ET, FT] . 
This schematic work, which suivives in alonger and a shorter form, 
has often been attributed to Philoxenus of Mabbug m the manu- 
scripts, but cannot possibly belong to that writer, and Joseph seems 
most likely to be its true author. 


8th Century 

- Shorter texts on different topics of the Spiritual life [ET]. 

68. ABRAHAM BAR DASHANDAD, 'the Lame' (E; fl.mid 
8th cent.). Originating from Beth Sayyade, he became head of the 
School of Bashosh, later moving to Marga, and then Mosul at the 
Monastery of Mar Gabriel (later, thanks to his fame, known as 'of 
Mai- Abraham and Mar Gabriel'). He taught both Timothy I and 
Isho' bar Nun. He is author of a monastic letter addressed to his 
younger brother, John [ET]. 

69*. ANONYMOUS author of the Zuqnin Chronicle (W; 
fl.c.776). An unknown monk of the monastery of Zuqnin (near 
Amid) was the author of an important world Chronicle (sometimes 
known as the Chronicle of Ps.Dionysius of Tel-Mahre) [LT + FT]. 
The earlier parts of the work draw on many different sources; thus 
for the biblical period the author makes use notably of the Syriac 
translation of Eusebius' Chronicle and an intriguing legend about 
the origin of the Magi; for the years 495-507 a local Edessene 
chronicle (usually known today as the Chronicle of Joshua the Stylite 
[ET; = 25 above]) is incorporated wholesale; while for the sixth 
century much is based closely on the lost second part of John of 
Ephesus' Ecclesiastical History [ET; = 34 above]. For the eighth 
century the author draws considerably on his own knowledge and 
experience of events [FT; ET forthcoming]. 

70* THEODORE bar KONI(E; late eighth cent.). Teacher 
at the School of Kashkar in Beth ' Aramaye (near- the Arab city of al- 
Wasit). A single work of his survives: 

- 'Book of the Scholion' [FT], completed in 792. This con- 
sists of 1 1 memre, 1 -9 concern specific questions to do with the Old 
Testament (1-5) and New Testament (6-9), arranged according to 
the sequence of the books; included within these memre are a num- 
ber of sections on philosophical terms, so that the work as a whole 
serves as a kind of introductory textbook on theology and philoso- 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
phy, taking the Bible as its basis. Memre 10 and 11 are probably 
later additions, 10 being an apology for Christianity directed to- 
wards Muslims, while 1 1 is an account of different heresies (incor- 
porated in this are some important quotations from Mandaean reli- 
gious texts). The work comes down in two recensions (which may 
represent two successive editions going back to the author). 

(d) 8th/9th cent. 

71* TIMOTHY I. (E; c.728 - 823). Born in Hazza (in 
Adiabene), 12 kms SW of Arbela. His education was put in the 
hands of his father's brother, George, bishop of Beth Baghash: he 
was sent to the famous school at Bashosh run by Abraham bar 
Dashandad. and when Abraham moved first to Marga and then to 
the monastery of Mai- Gabriel in Mosul, Timothy followed him. 
Probably between 766 and 770 he was consecrated bishop of Beth 
Baghash. After the death of the Catholicos Hnanisho' in 778/9 there 
were disputes over the succession, and eventually Timothy was 
elected (779) and consecrated Catholicos (7th May 780). Some 
opposition remained, but in the end reconciliation with the aggrieved 
parties was achieved (by c.782). Timothy's extensive collection of 
Letters provides some vivid insights into the life of the Church of 
the East at the time of some of the most famous Abbasid caliphs . 

- 59 Letters are preserved ('Abdisho' mentions the number 
of 200). [LT for 1-39]; Letters 42, 44-46, 49-58 remain unpub- 
lished] . The collection is not in chronological order. The maj ority 
are addressed to his friend and former fellow student, Sergius: 14- 
20, 28-33, 37-40, 44 and 49 are 1 addressed to him as 'Sergius, priest 
and doctor', while for 3, 5f7, 8, 11, 13,21-25,46-48, 52-55, 57-59 
Sergius is styled 'metropolitan of Elam' . The contents of these 
may be approximately classified as follows: 

■ ecclesiastical affairs: 3-13, 15-17, 21 -25, 27-32, 35, 44-47, 



8th / 9th Century 

- availability of manuscripts of translations from Greek 
patristic writers: 3, 16-20, 22, 24, 33, 37-39, 43, 47, 49. 

- the Hexapla, and the discovery of old Hebrew biblical manu- 
scripts near- Jericho, among which are non-canonical Psalms of David 
[GT]. (Four of these were translated into Syriac and survive; two 
of them correspond to non-canonical psalms in the Psalms scroll of 
Qumran Cave XI): 47. 

- new translations from Greek into Syriac of Greek philo- 
sophical texts (esp. Aristotle, Topics): 43, 48 [ETj. 

- a discussion with an Aristotelian philosopher at the caliph's 
court: 40 [FT]. 

- a discussion with the caliph al-Mahdi (775-85), in the 
form of a defence of Christianity [ET, FT] . 

- on theological topics: 34, 39, 41 (addressed to the monks 
of Mar Maron, [FT]), 42. 

- on ecumenical relations (doctrines held in common, pri- 
macy, the five patriarchal- sees): 26. 

- various: 1 (baptism), 2( the soul), 14 (letter of consola- 
tion), 19 (anew grammar), 36 (miscellaneous topics). 

- A collection of 48 Canons [LT GT] . Timothy may also 
have been responsible for collecting together the texts of earlier 
synods and their canons into the collection known today as the 

Synodicon Orientale. 


72*.ISHO'BARNUN. (E; c.744 - 1 Apr 828). Bom at Bet 
Gabbare on the river Tigris, near Mosul. He studied (along with 
Timothy I) under Abraham bar Dashandad. Subsequently he briefly 
taught at the School in Seleucia Ctesiphon, but then left to become 
a monk at the monastery of Mar Abraham on the mountain of Izla; 
later he was active in Baghdad, and then for a long period in Mosul. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

It is uncertain whether he is to be identified as the Isho'dad bar 
Nun bishop ofRamHormizd, mentioned in Timothy's Letters. He 
was consecrated Catholicos on 6 July 823. His surviving works 
(only a few of which have been published) are: 

- Select Questions on the Old and New Testaments [ET for 
some of those on Pentateuch]. This may be just a selection from a 
larger work now lost. 

- Juridical decisions concerning marriage, inheritance etc. 

- A grammatical work. 

- Consolatory homilies (fragments only). 

- Letters to the periodeutes Ishaq of Beth Qatraye, and to 
the deacon Makarios, on liturgical matters. 

- Four questions on works of the Solitary Fathers. 

(e) 9th cent. 

73* JOBofEDESSA(E; fl. early 9th cent.). He is known 
to have been born in Edessa, and to have been a contemporary ol 
the Catholicos Timothy I (d.823). Hunayn ibn Ishaq mentions him 
as a translator into Syriac of works by Galen. The two works by 
Job that survive are both scientific in character: 

- The Book of Treasures [ET], in six books, covering 
metaphysics, psychology, physiology, medicine, chemistry, phys- 
ics, mathematics, meteorology and astronomy. 

- On Canine Hydrophobia (unpublished). 

In the course of the Book of Treasures Job mentions various 
other works that he had written, on cosmology, the soul, syllogisms, 
the senses, medicine (on urine), and the Faith. None of these, 


9th Century 
however, survive. 

74*.JOHN(IWANNIS)ofDARA. (W; flourished first half 
of 9th cent.). Nothing is known of his life, except that the Patriarch 
Dionysius of Tellmahre (d.845) dedicated his Ecclesiastical His- 
tory (lost) to him. Only the first of the works listed below has been 
published so far. 

- Commentary on the Liturgy, in four books [FT]. 

- On the Soul. 

- On the Resurrection of bodies. 

- On Priesthood. 

- Commentary on the Celestial and Ecclesiastical Hierar- 
chies by Dionysius the Areopagite. 

- On Paradise. 

- On Creation. 
-Against heretics. 

- The Resurrection of Christ. 

- On Pentecost. 

- On the Finding of the Cross. 

- On the Divine Economy. 

- On Demons. 

- On the Doctrine of the Christians. 

75*.ISHOT)ADofMERV(E; fl. mid 9th cent.). Bishop 
of Hdatta, who was a candidate for the Catholicosate in 852. He is 
the author of one of the most extensive commentaries on the entire 
Bible, Old [FT] and New Testaments [ET], drawing together much 
older material. For the Old Testament part he is the first East Syr- 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
ian writer to draw or, readings of Aquila, Symmachus and 
Theodotron, to be found in the margin of the Syrohexapla. 

76 NONNUS(W; timid 9th cent). Archdeacon of Nisibis; 
hi, chief 'fame hay ,n bis successMly combattng Ore ChaWonran 
teaching of Theodore Abu Qurra at the court ot the Aimeman 
B SkingAshot. AtAshm-.Wtne^Con™^ 
on John (in Arabic, but based on Syriac sources) wl ic . *asto 
translated rnto Armenian (in which it alone survives). Fotu other 
theological works, all written in Syriac, are extant. 

- Apologetic treatise [LT1. responding to three questions 
concerning the Trinity and Incarnation (the standpoint ol the 
questioner is uncle ar) . 

- A treatise against Thomas of Marga (on whom see 79 
below), in 4 books. 

- Two letters. 

Only the first of these texts has been published. 

77* ANTON of TAGRIT (W; probably 9th cent.). 
Barhebraeus supposed that Anton (whom he ^™ffi^ 
ronteraDorary of the patriarch Dionysius ot Tell Mahie (ci.~ Aug. 

forte; nevertheless, amnth-century date seems quite likely. His 
surviving works are: 

- On the Science of Rhetoric, in five books [ET for Book 5]. 
Anton's states that his aim in writing this important work was to 
ferine tne 'who call our Syriac language meagre, narrow, stunted 

to far, only Book 5, on metres and on rhetorical figuies, has been 

- On Providence (unpublished). 


9th Century 

- On the Myron (unpublished). 

- Consolatory letters (unpublished). 

- Prayers. Some of these are in verse, and probably con- 
stitute one of the earliest pieces of evidence for the use of rhyme. 

78*. ANONYMOUS (Ps. George of Arbeia) (E; 9th cent.?). 
The name and date of the author of an extensive and important 
Commentary on the East Syrian Liturgical rites [LT] are unknown: 
he is certainly writing after Abraham bar Lipeh (7th cent.; = 52, 
above), whom he quotes, and Isho ; dad IIFs liturgical reforms; on 
the other hand, he is certainly not the tenth -century George, metro- 
politan of Mosul and Arbela, with whom Asscmani identified him. 
The work is divided into 7 books; these cover: 1, the liturgical 
year; 2, various liturgical practices (e.g. division of Psalter, use of 
the Our Father in different services, on the 'onyata); 3, on Lilya: 
on provisions for specific pails of the liturgical year; 4, on the (eu- 
charistic) Mysteries; 5, on baptism; 6, on the place of Quddash 'idta 
(consecration of the church) at the beginning of the liturgical year, and 
on various liturgical practices; 7,onfuneraTandmaniageiites. 

79*. THOMAS, bishop of MARGA (E; fl. mid 9th cent.) 

- Book of Superiors (Abbots) [ET]. This extensive work for 
the large part concerns figures connected with his own monastery 
of Beth 'Abe. Of the present six books, Book 6 is a separate earlier 
work, mainly concerned with the monastery of Rabban Cyprian. 

80. ISHO'DNAH (E; ft c.860). Metropolitan of Prat d- 
Maishan (Basra). 

- 'Book of Chastity ', or 'History of the founders of monaster- 
ies in the realms of the Persians and the Arabs' [FT]. This is a 
collection of 140 short notices concerning monastic figures, covering 
from Mar Augen (reputedly fourth century) to the mid ninth century." 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
81. ANONYMOUS (E; late 9th cent.) author of commen- 
tary on Old and New Testaments, of which only the section cover- 
ing Gen. 1 - 1 8 has so far been published [ET 1 . 

82* MOSHEBARKEPHA(W; b.c.833; d.llFeb. 903). 
He was born in Balad (modem Eski Mosul) in N Iraq, and educated 
at the Monastery of Mar Sargis (known as 'the Hanging Monas- 
tery') in the 'Dry Mountain' some 15 kms NE of Balad. c.863 he 
was made bishop of Beth Raman, Beth Kiyonaye and Mosul (i.e. 
his diocese covered the area along the Tigris S of Mosul and N of 
Taerit) An extensive number of writings survive, in three mam 
fields, exegesis, theology, and liturgy; many of these have not yet 
been published. 


- Commentary on the Six Days of Creation (Hexaemeron), 
in 5 books. [Only pails of the Syriac text have been published, but 
there is a complete GT]. 

- Commentary on Paradise, in 3 books. (This was one of the 
earliest Syriac texts to be studied by European scholars, and was 
translated into Latin by Andreas Masius in 1569; the Syriac text 
remains unpublished). [LT]. 

- Introduction to the Psalter. [FT]. 

- Commentary on Matthew, Luke, John, Acts and the 
Pauline Epistles. [Only those on John and on Romans have so 
far been published, with GT]. 

Theological (Syriac texts all unpublished): 

- On the Soul (41 chapters). [GT only]. 

- On Resurrection (34 chapters). 

- On the creation of angels (45 chapters). 



10th Century 

- On the hierarchy of angels ( 1 6 chapters). 

- On predestination and free will. 

- On priesthood (this work is also attributed to John of 

Liturgical (only the Syriac texts of the second, third, and a few 
ol the Homilies are published): 

- Commentary on the baptismal rite. [ET]. 

- Commentary on the eucharistic liturgy. [ET]. 

- Commentary on the consecration of the myron. [GT]. 

- Commentary on the ordination rites (for bishops priests 
deacons). [LT]. 

- Commentary on the clothing of monks. 

- Commentary on rite for the dedication of a church. 

- Commentary on the funeral rites. 

- Commentary on the heavenly and earthly priesthood. 

- An instruction to the members of the Church. 

- A collection of 38 homilies. [ET, FT in part]. 

- A Book on the Causes of the Feasts. 

Several works are known to be lost: a Church Historv a com- 
mentary on Gregory of Nazianzus' Homilies, a work against her- 
esies, and a commentary on Aristotle's Categories (an excerpt of 
the last survives). 

(0 I Oth cent. 

83. ELIJAH of ANBAR(E; fl. first half of 10th cent.) Bishop 
of Anbar (Peroz Shabur), and author of an extensive work in verse 
entitled Ktaba d-durrasha (Book of Instruction), or Book of Centu- 
ries, in three parts, consisting of 10 memre in all [GT of Part I]. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
The content, which could be described as gnomic, is strongly influ- 
enced by the Dionysian Corpus. 

84*. ANONYMOUS author (W; 10th cent.?) of the Book of 
the Cause of Causes [GT]. The author identifies himself as abishop 
of Edessa who resigned and retired to a contemplative life; as a 
result he has sometimes been identified as Jacob of Edessa, but this 
is impossible, as the author clearly lived several centuries later. The 
work seeks to be 'a book in common for all peoples under heaven, 
on knowledge of truth, how it is known'; it deals with wide theo- 
logical problems of the relationship between God and humanity, 
and, in a remarkable attempt at inter-faith dialogue, seeks to present 
specifically Christian doctrines, such as the Trinity, in a way that 
might be acceptable to Jews and Muslims. 

85. EMMANUEL bar SHAHHARE (E; 11. second half 10th 
cent.). Author of an extensive unpublished verse commentary on 
the Hexaemeron (Six days of Creation). 

(g) 11th cent. 

86. ELIJAH of NISIBIS (E; 11 Feb 975-18 July 1046). 
Bora at Shenna (hence sometimes known as Eliabar Shinaya), he 
was ordained priest in 994, and studied at the monastery of Mai- 
Michael, near Mosul. In 1002 he was appointed bishop of Beth 
Nuhadra, and in 1008 as Metropolitan of Nisibis. He wrote prima- 
rily in Arabic, but used Syriac in composing a number of liturgical 
prayers (still in use). Both Syriac and Arabic feature in two works: 

- Chronography [FT, LT]. This important work contains 
short excerpts from many earlier sources otherwise lost; much 
of it is taken up with elaborate tables. 

- An Arabic-Syriac glossary, entitled The Interpreter' , to 
facilitate the teaching of Syriac. 


12th Century 

(h) 12th cent. 

87* DIONYSIUS BAR SALIBI (W; d.1171) He was 
probably born i„ Metitene (Malatya), a meeting pom f „, Grlet 

Sir c T e m the iate ] 2th cewury ' ws ^ ™* s 

HhM, • T aPP01Med bish0p of Mar-ash (Germanikia) 

r f ..own t o p h ::ri ( r s * ^™- sr 

suu of Ins generation and a phtloponos tike Jacob of S L 

"Z e e° th ^° St ^ ^ TOl — S ^» Orthod writ 
us of the twelfth century. His main surviving works are: 

- Commentary on the Old Testament (mostly unpublished). 

- Commentary on the New Testament [LT]. 

Dtonysius bar Salibi was the first Syrian Orthodox to provide 
a comments on the entire Bible; he draws on a great vaSv o? 

mcludmg commentators of the Church of the East) Much of the 
commentary on the Old Testament ts arraneed in two sections ft c 
tual or materia! (sm rana'it), and spiritual (mhanatit) 

- Commentary on the Liturgical Offices [LT], 

- Commentary on the Baptismal ltturgy (unpublished). 

- Three anaphoras. 

- Polemical works against the Muslims (unpublished) Jews 
Armemans [ET], Melkrtes [ET], and Nestonans (un V 2sZ). 

- Commentary on Evagrius' Centuries. 

Lo^Zu mt n ° n ^^ ?S Hsag0ge and on Arist °tle's 
Logical works, or Organon (completed m 1 148; unpublished). 

- Penitential Canons [LTJ. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
Among works by Dionysius bar Salibi which have been lost 
are: a chronicle, a treatise on Providence, a compendium of theol- 
ogy, commentaries on the works of various Greek Fathers, letters 
and poems. 

88. ELIJAH in ABU HALIM (E; d. 12 Apr 1190). 

Bishop of Maipherqat, then metropolitan of Nisibis, and finally 
Cathoiicos (1 176). He wrote in both Arabic and Syriac, the latter 
being used for his collection of prayers for the morning Office 
throughout the liturgical year (manuscripts containing these are sim- 
ply called 'Abu Halim ' ) . 

89*. MICHAEL the GREAT (W; d.1199). Syrian Or- 
thodox Patriarch from 1166-1199. He was born in Melitene, and 
before being elected Patriarch was Superior of the Monastery of 
Barsauma in the region of Melitene. Besides revising the Syrian 
Orthodox Pontifical and editing the Life of Abhai, bishop of Nicaea, 
he is the author of the most extensive of all Syriac world Chronicles 
[FT], covering from Creation to his own day. Incorporated into 
this massive work are many documents not preserved in other 
sources. For the seventh and early eighth centuries he made con- 
siderable use of the lost Ecclesiastical History by one of his prede- 
cessors as Patriarch, Dionysius of Tel-Mahre (81 8 - 22 August 845). 

(I) 13th cent. 

90. IOHANNANBARZO'BI(E; late 12th/early 13th 
cent.). Monk of the monastery of Beth Qoqa in Adiabene, and one 
of the most learned East Syriac writers of his time. Very few of his 
writings have yet been edited; these include a verse commentary 
of baptism and the eucharist, and various works on grammar and 
philosophy, in both prose and verse, 

91 . SOLOMON of BOSRA (E; 11. early 1 3th century). 
Born at Akhlat on Lake Van at an unknown date, he was already 


13th Century 

metropolitan of Prath d-Maishan, or Basra, in 1222. Although he 
also wrote a number of smaller works, he is chiefly famous for his 
compilation of biblical traditions entitled the Book of the Bee [ET]. 

92. GIWARGIS WARDA (E; 11. first half of 13th 

cent.). This famous poet, from Arbela, lived in the turbulent pe- 
riod of the Mongol invasions, and several of his poems deal with 
contemporary events (e.g. On the devastation of Karamlais by the 
Mongols in 1 235/6). Many of his hymns were adopted for liturgi- 
cal use, and manuscripts containing these are known by the name 
• Warda' (Rose). Topics covered are mostly hado graphical or deal- 
ing with liturgical feasts . Only 23 of his c. 1 50 poems have so far 
been published. 

93*. ANONYMOUS (W; fl. first half of 13th cent.). 
This unknown author of one of the most important and extensive 
Synac world Chronicles, miming from Creation to c.1234 [LT + 
FT], probably came from Edessa. The work (which unfortunately 
contains several gaps) is in two parts, one devoted to ecclesiastical 
matters, the other to secular. Among the sources he uses for the 
early biblical period is the Book of Jubilees (not certainly quoted in 
any other Syriac writer). For the seventh and eighth centuries much 
use is made of the lost Ecclesiastical History by Dionysius of Tel- 

94*. JACOB SEVERUS bar SHAKKO (W; d.1241) 
Born m Bartella (near Mosul), he studied under the East Syriac 
scholar Iohannan bar Zo'bi (at the monastery of Beth Qoqe) and 
under a Muslim scholar in Mosul, Kamal al-Din Musa ibn Yunus 
(for dialectics and philosophy). He subsequently became bishop of 
the monastery of Mar Mattai, with the episcopal name Sevems 
His surviving works are: 

- Ktobo d-Simoto, 'Book of Treasures'. This theological 
compendium is set out in four parts: 1, on the Triune God; 2, on 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
the incarnation; 3, on divine providence; and 4, on the creation of 
the world (covering angels, stars, geography, natural history, etc., 
ending up with the consitution of the human person and the soul, 
antichrist, the resurrection of the body, and the last judgement. The 
work remains unpublished. 

- Ktobo d-Dialogu, ; Book of Dialogues'. This is arranged in 
two books; the first covers: 1 , grammar; 2, rhetoric; 3, poetry and 
metres; 4, eloquence and the richness of the Syriac language/ The 
second book deals with: 1 , logic and syllogisms; and 2, philosophy 
(divided up into five sections: (a) definitions and divisions of phi- 
losophy; (b) philosophical life and conduct; (c) physics and physi- 
ology; (d) arithmetic, music, geometry, mathematics; and (e) meta- 
physics and theology). Only excerpts of this work have so far been 

- Two letters written in verse. 

- A symbol of faith. 


(W; 1225/6 - 30 vii 1286). Alongside Ephrem, perhaps the most 
famous of all Syriac writers. He was born in Melitene and was the 
son of a doctor Ahron who has been assumed to have been a con- 
vert from Judaism (hence the name Barhebraeus); his baptismal 
name was Yuhanon, but he subsequently took the name Gregorius 
when he was appointed at a very young age as bishop of Gubos 
(1246); he later became bishop of Aleppo (1253), and was eventu- 
ally appointed Maphrian of the East (1264). He died in Maragha 
(NW Iran). He was a polymath of extraordinarily wide learning in 
virtually every subject that was studied in his time. He wrote both 
in Syriac and in Arabic, and had a good knowledge of Greek, Arme- 
nian, Persian, and perhaps some of Coptic and Hebrew. In his 
Ecclesiastical History (11,43 1-486) he has left a considerable amount 
of autobiographical information, and this was supplemented after 
his death by his brother Barsauma, who also gives a list of his writ- 


13th Century 

ings (another list is to be found in the verse panegyrie on Barhebraeus 
by Dioscorus of Gozarto, [= 98, belowj). His extensive sunn ving 
writings cover theology, philosophy, ethics, astronomy, grammar, 
exegesis, liturgy, canon law, history, and much more. Several of 
his most important works have not yet been published. He draws 
on Greek, Syriac, Arabic and Persian sources in his various com- 
pendia. For several topics he provides works on three different 
levels, elementary, intermediary and advanced. His most impor- 
tant surviviving writings are: 

- Mnorat Qudsho, -Candelabra of the Sanctuary' [FT I-V, VII- 
XII; GT VI j . This large-scale theological compendium is arranged 
in 12 books (called 'foundations'), with the following titles: 

I, On knowledge, straightforwardly. 

II, On the nature of the universe. 

III, On theology (i.e. on the Trinity). 

IV On the incarnation of God the Word. 

V On knowledge of the heavenly beings, namely the an- 

VI, On the earthly priesthood. 

VII, On the evil spirits, or demons. 

VIII, On the rational soul. 

IX, On freewill and liberty, and on fate, determinism, and the end. 

X, On the resurrection of the dead. 

XI, On the end, on judgement, and on the reward of the 
good and the evil. 

XII, On the paradise of Eden. 

- Ktobo d-Zalge. This is his medium-size compendium of 
theology, divided up into ten parts: 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

I, On the Creation in six days. 

II, On theology (i.e. on the Trinity). 

III, On the incarnation. 

IV, On angels. 

V, On evil spirits. 

VI, On the soul. 

VII, On priesthood. 

VIII, On freewill and the end. 

IX, On the end of the two worlds, microcosm and macro- 
cosm, and on the beginning of the New World. 

X, On Paradise [FT]. 

- 'OsarRoze, ^Treasure of Mysteries' [ET for Pentateuch and 
New Testament]. This is more a systematic collection of notes, 
rather than a commentary, on all the books of the Syriac Bible. There 
is a strong philological and textual interest. 

- Ktobo d-Hudoye, 'Book of Guides' (also known as the 
Nomocanon) [LT]. This is a collection of Canon Law, arranged 
thematically for convenience of use. The work is set out in 40 
chapters, the earlier ones concerning ecclesiastical matters, and the 
later ones concerning lay affairs (inheritance, business dealings, in- 
terest, irrigation rights, theft, homicide etc.). 

- Ktobo d-Itiqon, 'Book of Ethics', with the sub-title 'on ex- 
cellence of conduct, according to the opinion of the desert fathers 
and the tested teachers ' . The work is set out in four discourses, the 
first two dealing with exterior knowledge ('the work oflhe limbs), 
the last two with interior knowledge ('the work of the heart ): 

I (with 9 chapters), on liturgical prayer, manual work, scrip - 


13th Century 

tural reading, vigils, psalmody, fasts, pilgrimage etc. [FT]. 

II (with 6 chapters), on foods, marriage and celibacy, the 
cleansing of the body, the different ages of man, manual work, com- 
merce, and almsgiving. 

III (with 12 chapters), 'On the purification of the soul from 
the base passions'. 

IV (with 16 chapters), 'On the adornment of the soul with 
excellent qualities' . Barhebraeus' main model and source for this 
work was the Ihya 'ulum al-din by al-Ghazali (d. 11 1 1 ). 

- Ktobo d-Yawno, 'Book of the Dove' [ET]. This work, in 
four chapters, describes the various forms of the ascetic life; the 
fourth chapter contains material based on his own spiritual experi- 

- Commentary on the Book of the Holy Hierotheos (a sixth- 
century mystical work by Stephen bar Sudhaili). 

- Ktobo d-He'wat Hekmto, 'Book of the Cream of Wisdom'. 
This is avast encyclopaedia of Aristotelian philosophy, set out in 
four books: 

I, on Logic, in 9 parts, following the order of Aristotle's logi- 
cal works ('the Organon') as studied from at least the sixth century, 
i.e. 1, Porphyry's Eisagoge or Introduction; 2, Categories; 3, On 
Interpretation (Peri hermeneias); 4, Prior Analytics; 5, Apodeiktike, 
or Posterior Analytics; 6, Topics; 7, Sophistics; 8, Rhetorics; 9, 

II, on the physical world, in 13 parts. 

III, on Metaphysics, in 2 parts. 

IV, on practical philosophy (covering Aristotle's Ethics, 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
Economics, and Politics; also deals with physiognomy). 

Barhebraeus makes considerable use of Ibn Sina's 
(Avicenna's) Shifa', and (for the fourth book) of al Tusi's Ahlq-e 
Nasiri; he also preserves a number of quotations from Greek writ- 
ers whose works are otherwise lost. Only excerpts of this impor- 
tant work have so far been published. 

- Ktobo da-Swod Sufya [FT], 'Book of the Conversation 
of wisdom' . This is his middle-sized treatise on logic, the physi- 
cal world, and philosophy. 

- Ktobo d-Tegrat Tegroto, 'Book of the Treatise of Trea- 
tises' . This deals with logic, the physical world, and philosophy. 

- Ktobo d-Boboto, 'Book of the Pupils (sc. of the eye)'. 
This is a summary introduction to logic. 

- Ecclesiastical History [LT]. This is arranged in two parts, 
the first dealing with the patriarchs of Antioch and the more 
westerly area (up to 1285) , and the second with the area further 
east, covering both the Catholicoi of the Church of the East and 
the Syrian Orthodox Maphrians. The work also includes an 
autobiographical section. 

- Chronicle [ET]. This covers, in summary fashion, from 
Creation to Barhebraeus' own days. He also made an Arabic 
adaptation of this work for the benefit of a Muslim friend. 

- Ktobo d-Semhe, 'Book of Splendours' [GT]. This is 
Barhebraeus' largest and most important work on grammar. 

- Ktobo d-Gramatiqi', 'Book of Grammar'. This is a 
grammar written in the seven-syllable metre. 

- Ktobo d-Balsusyoto, 'Book of Sparks'. This is a short 

- Ktobo d-Suloqo Hawnonoyo [FT], 'Book of intellectual 


14th to 19th Centuries 

ascent'. This work, composed in 1279, deals with astronomy. 

- Ktobo d-Tunoye Mgahkone, 'Book of amusing stories' 
[ET]. This is a collection of short narratives and sayings derived 
from earlier sources; much use has been made of a work by 
Abu Sa'd al-Abi (d. c. 1030). 

- Poems (Mushhoto). Besides the verse grammar, 
Barhebraeus wrote a considerable number of poems, among 
which the longest is entitled 'On wisdom' . 

- An Anaphora. 


13th/14th cent 

96*. 'ABDISHO'BARBRIKA(E; d. 1318). Bishop 
of Sinjar and Bet 'Arbaye, and then Metropolitan of Soba (or 
Nisibis). He wrote in both Arabic and Syriac; his suriviving Syriac 

works are: 

- Nomocanon [LT], or collection of synodical canons, arranged 

- Rules of ecclesiastical judgements [LT], designed as a hand- 
book for use in ecclesiastical courts . 

- Marganitha, or 'Pearl', with the subtitle 'the Truth of the 
Faith' [ET]. this short and influential exposition of East Syrian 
theology was written in 1298. 

- Paradise of Eden. This is a collection of 50 poems, first 
circulated in 1 29 1 , but later (1316) provided by the author himself 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
with a commentary, seeing that he made use of a large number of 
rare and obscure words. 

- Metrical catalogue of Syriac writers [ET, LT]. This work is 
an invaluable source of information, especially about lost works by 
Syriac authors. In the course of this work (arranged chronologi- 
cally) he mentions a number of his own works which have not come 
down to us, notably a commentary on the Bible, a work on the dis- 
pensation of the life of Christ on earth, and one on heresies and on 

97. KHAMIS bar QARDAHE (E; late 13th/early 14th 
cent.). Served as priest in Arbela, and was a prolific poet, writing 
both religious and secular verse. Among other things he wrote a 
supplement to Barhebraeus' poem on Wisdom. His liturgical po- 
etry (especially his 'Onyatha) are transmitted in volumes specifi- 
cally entitled 'Khamis'. 

98. DIOSCORUS of GOZARTO (W; late 13th/early 
14th cent.). Monk of a monastery in Bartelli, he was consecrated 
bishop of Gozarto d-Qardu in 1 285/6 by Barhebraeus; author of • 

- Verse life of Barhebraeus. 

- Anaphora. 

99. ANONYMOUS (E). An anonymous writer com- 
posed the History of Yahballaha and Rabban Sauma [ET FT] shortly 
afterthedeathofYahballahainin 1317. This is a vivid account of 
how two monks from China were sent to the west as emissaries of 
the Mongol IlKhan, one of whom was elected Catholicos, while 
the other (Rabban Sauma) journeyed on to Europe. The author 
was evidently an eyewitness of many of the events related while 
for Rabban Sauma's journey to Europe he was able to make use of 
thelatter's diary, whichhe sometimes reproduces verbatim. 

100. TIMOTHYH(E; d.1353). Metropolitan of Mosul, 


14th to 19th Centuries 

and then (in 1318) Catholicos, in succession to Yahballaha 

III. - On the ecclesiastical mysteries. The work is in seven 
chapters: 1, on priesthood; 2, on the consecration of a church; 3, 
on baptism [ET]; 4, on the Eucharist; 5, on monastic profession; 
6, on funeral rites; 7, on betrothal and marriage rites. 

E. 14th~19th CENTURY 

A considerable amount of both prose and poetry continued to 
be written in Syriac during these centuries, but so far the literature 
of this period has been very little studied by scholars, and only a 
small number of writings from it have been published. From the 
15th century, mention might be made of the priest Isaiah of Bet 
Sbirina(Tur 'Abdin) and his son Yeshu'(W; d.1492); among the 
former's poems are several on contemporary events (including the 
devastations of Timur Leng, d.1407). To the mid 15th century 
belongs Ishaq Qardahe Sbadnaya (E), author of several acrostic 
' Onyata and of a 12-syllable poem on the Divine Economy, accom- 
panied by a prose commentary containing many quotations from 
old writers . From the end of the 1 5th century come Mas 'ud, also of 
Tur 'Abdin (W), author of a theological poem entitled 'The Spiri- 
tual Ship ' [LT] . Three important poets of the turn of the 1 5th/l 6th 
century are the Patriarch Nuh (W; d. 1 509), David 'the Phoenician' 
(W) and Sargis bar Wahle (E), who wrote a verse life of Rabban 
Hormizd [ET]. The late sixteenth and early seventeenth century 
saw the beginnings of written literature in Modern Syriac, and sev- 
eral poems in the dialect of Alqosh survive; otherwise, it was not 
until the nineteenth century and the influence of the American mis- 
sionary press at Urmiah that Modern Syriac (mainly in the Urmiah 
dialect) came to be quite widely used as a written language. 

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries several trans- 
lations into Syriac were made of classics of western spirituality, 
such as The Imitation of Christ attributed to Thomas a Kempis (this 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
translation was made by the Maphrian Basil Ishaq Gobeyr (W; 
d . 1 72 1 ) . Two outstanding writers in Syriac from this period are the 
Chaldean Patriarch Joseph II residing in Amid/Diarbekir (E; 
d. 1 73 1 ), author of The Magnet and The Shining Mirror (both widely 
read in manuscript), and Metropolitan Basileios Shem'un of Tur 
'Abdin (W; martyred in 1740), author of a Book of Theology (1714), 
The Ship of Mysteries (verse, on theological topics; 1727/9), The 
Armour of Thanksgiving and Hope of Faith (1723, subsequently 
translated into Arabic), and many homilies and poems; Shem'un 
also compiled a dictionary based on the much earlier one by Bar 
Bahlul (late 10th cent.). 


The late 1 9th century witnessed a considerable revival of lit- 
erary activity in Syriac. One outstanding figure was T'oma Audo, 
Chaldean metropolitan of Urmia (E; 1 853-1917), who, amongst 
many other things, was the compiler of an extremely valuable Syriac- 
Syriac dictionary (1 896; reprinted 1 985). Other notable figures 
include the Syrian Catholic Patriarch Rahmani (W; 1848-1929), 
the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ephrem Barsaum (W; 1 887-1 957), 
and Metropolitan Philoxenos Yuhanon Dolabani (W; 1 885-1 969); 
it was Dolabani who translated into Syriac Barsaum's important 
History of Syriac Literature and Paulos Behnam's drama Theodora, 
both of which were originally written in Arabic. 

Several writers of the 20th century have used Syriac as a ve- 
hicle for secular literature; a pioneer in this field was Na'um Fa'yeq 
(W; 1868-1930), who founded the periodical Star of the East in 
1 908 . A number of translations into Syriac of western secular lit- 
erature has also been made, such as Bernardin de Saint Pierre's 
romantic novel Paul et Virginie, translated by Paulos Gabriel (W; 
d.1971) and Ghatta Maqdasi Elyas (W) and published (in 1955) 


Table of Authors 

under the title Myatruto ('Virtue'), and Racine's play Athalie (trans- 
lated by Abrohom Isu (Baghdad, 1 978). More recent translations 
include Machiavelli's Prince (by Gabriel Afram), published in Swe- 
den in i 995 . A considerable amount of writing in Classical Syriac, 
in both prose and verse, continues today, both in the Middle East 
and (above all) in the Diaspora, now scattered all over the world. 

THORS (2nd~!3fh cent) 

2nd/3rd cent. 

4th cent. 

5th cent. 

*Peshitta OT 


*01d Syriac Gospels 

*Book of the Laws of the Countries 

(School of Bardaisan) 

*Odes of Solomon 

* Acts of Thomas 

Melito 'the philosopher' 

Menander sentences 




*Ephrem (d.373) 

*Book of Steps 



*John the Solitary 

*Anonymous poetry (soghyatha, memre, 


* Anonymous prose (hagiography): 

Abraham of Qidun 


5th/6th cent. 

6th cent. 

Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
The Man of God (Alexis) 
Edessan Martyrs (Shmona, 
Gurya, Habbib) 
Teaching of Addai 
Legendary Edessan Martyrs 
(Bars amy a, Sharbel) 
Euphemia and the Goth 
Persian Martyrs 
Symeon the Stylite 
'Julian Romance' 

Horn, on Abraham and Isaac 
*Narsai (E) 

*Jacob of Serugh (W; d.521) 
Simeon the Potter (W) 
*Philoxenus/Aksenoyo (W; d.523) 
* 'Isaac of Antioch' (W) 
Symmachus (W) 

ANON., Chron. of 'Joshua the Stylite' (W) 
Stephen bar Sudhaili (W) 
Sergius of Resh'aina (W; d.536) 
Simeon of Beth Arsham (W) 
Elias (W) 

Thomas of Edessa (E) 
ANON, Chron. of Edessa (W) 
*John of Ephesus (W) 
Peter of Kallinikos (W) 
ANON. Chronicle of Pseudo-Zacharias 
Ahudemmeh (W?) 
Abraham of Nathpar (E) 
ANON., *Cave of Treasures etc. 


Table of Authors 

6th/7th cent. Barhadbeshabba ' Arbaya (E) 

Barhadbeshabba of Halwan (E) 
Shubhalmaran (E) 
*Babai the Great (E; d.628) 

*Sahdona/Martyrius (E) 


JohnoftheSedre(W; d.648) 

Marutha (W; d.649) 

Gregory of Cyprus (E) 

ANON. , memra on Alexander trie Great etc. 
Later 7th cent. Severus Sebokht (W; d.666/7) 

Gabriel Qatraya (E) 

Abraham bar Lipeh (E) 

ANON., Khuzistan Chronicle (E) 

*Isho'yahbIII(E; d.659) 

*Isaac of Nineveh (E) 

Shem'on the Graceful (E) 


John bar Penkaye (E) 

ANON., Apocalypse of Ps. Methodius; 


* Jacob of Edessa(W; d.708) 
*George, bishop of the Arab tribes (W; 

ANON., 'Diyarbekk- Commentary' (E) 

Sergius the Stylite (W) 


♦John of Daly atha/ John Saba (E) 

* Joseph Hazzaya/'the Seer' (E) 
Abraham bar Dashandad (E) 
♦ANON., author of Zuqnin Chronicle 
(W; c.776) 
♦Theodore bar Koni (E) 

7th/8th cent. 

8th cent. 


8th/9th cent. 
9th cent. 

10th cent. 

11th cent. 
12th cent. 

Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

♦Timothy I (E; d.823) 

*Isho'barNun(E; d.828) 

*Job of Edessa (E) 



Nonnus of Nisibis (W) 

* Anton of Tagrit(W) 

♦ANON., Ps. George of Arbela 

♦Thomas of Marga (E) 


ANON., Commentary on OT, NT 

*Moshe bar Kepha (W; d.903) 

Elia (Elijah) of Anbar (E) 

♦ANON., author of Book of the Cause 

of Causes (W) 

Emmanuel bar Shahhare (E) 

Elia (Elijah) of Nisibis (E; d.1046) 

♦Dionysius bar Salibi (W; d. 1 17 1) 

Elia (Elijah) III AbuHalim (E; d.1190) 

♦Michael I, 'the Great' (W; d.1199) 
1 3th cent. Iohannan bar Zo 'bi (E) 

Solomon of Bosr a (E) 
Giwargis Warda (E) 
♦ANON., author of Chronicle to year 

1234 (W) 

♦Jacob Severus bar Shakko (W; d.1241) 
♦Barhebraeus/Bar 'Ebroyo/Abu 'IFarag 
(W; d.1286) 
13th/14thcent.*'Abdisho' (E; d.1318) 

Khamis bar Qardahe (E) 
Dioscorus of Gozarto (W) 
ANON., History of Yahballaha III and 
Rabban Sauma (E) 
Timothy II (E; d.1353) 




(a) BIBLE 

The earliest printed edition of the Syriac New Testament was 
prepared by Johann Widmanstetter with the help of the Syrian Or- 
thodox priest Moses of Mardin; this was published in Vienna in 
1 555. The main subsequent editions of the complete Syriac Bible 
(Peshitta) are: 

Paris Polyglot Bible (W; 1645); the Syriac was prepared 
by the Maronite Gabriel Sionita) 

London Polyglot Bible (W; 1657); edited by Brian Walton) 
Edition by Samuel Lee (W; 1823) 

Edition published by the American mission's press in 

Edition published by the Dominican press in Mosul (E; 

Trinitarian Bible Society's edition (E; 1913 and reprints), 
edited by Joseph d-Qelayta and based on the Urmiah edition 

Edition published in Beirut (E; 1 95 1 ), based on the Mosul 

United Bible Societies Edition (W; 1979). The original 
edition is a photographic reprint of S.Lee's edition of both Old and 
New Testaments, with the Apocrypha added (handwritten, and prob- 
ably based on the Mosul edition, which alone of the earlier editions 
includes the 'deuterocanonical' books); in the reprints of 1 988 on- 
wards, however, the New Testament text has been taken from the 

Brief outiine of Syr. Lit. 

British and Foreign Bible Society's edition of the New Testament 

Old Testament 

(a) Peshitta 

A critical edition of the Peshitta translation of the Hebrew 
Bible is in the course of publication by the Peshitta Institute in 
Leiden (the Netherlands). The text is based on a manuscript of the 
6th/7th century in the Ambrosian Library, Milan (siglum:7al ), and 
the variants of manuscripts prior to the 1 3th century are given in the 
apparatus (a few volumes include later manuscripts). The vol- 
umes that have been published so far are: 

1.1 Genesis, Exodus (1977) 

1.2 and II. lb Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua (1991) 
Ilia Job (1982) 

11.2 Judges, I-II Samuel (1978) 

11.3 Psalms (1980) 

11.4 I-II Kings (1976) 

11. 5 Proverbs, Wisdom, Ecclesiastes (Qohelet), Song of 
Songs (1979) 

III. 1 Isaiah (1987) 

IIL3 Ezekiel(1985) 

III.4 Twelve Prophets, Daniel (1980) 

IV.3 ApocalypeofBaruch; IV Ezra (1973) 

IV.6 Odes, Apocryphal Psalms, Psalms of Solomon, Tobit, 

1(3) Ezra (1972). 


Particular Topics 

(b) Syrohexapla 

This does not survive complete (parts of -the Pentateuch and 
historical books are lost). The following are the principal editions: 

A. Ceriani, Codex Syro-Hexaplaris ... (1874); a photolitho- 
graphic edition of a huge manuscript of the second half of the 
Syrohexapla in the Ambrosian Library, Milan. 

P. de Lagarde, Bibliothecae Syriacae.. (1892); contains what 
survives of the Pentateuch and historical books. 

W.Baars, New Syro-Hexaplaric Texts (1 968); contains ma- 
terial additional to de Lagarde's edition. 

A.Voobus, The Pentateuch in the Version of the Syro-Hexapla 
(CSCO Subsidia45, 1975); a photographic edition of a manu- 
script containing otherwise lost parts of the Pentateuch. 

(c) ( Syro-Lucianic y 

This sixth-century translation from the Septuagint survives 
only in fragments and may never have covered more than a few 
books; it is very possible that the translation was commissioned by 
Philoxenus (alongside the 'Philoxenian' NT), since he specifically 
quotes it at one point in his Commentary on the Prologue of John. 
The suiviving fragments were edited by A.Ceriani, in Monumenta 
Sacra etProfana5 (1875). 

Part of another sixth-century translation, of the Song of Songs, 
also survives; this combines material from Peshitta and translation 

of the Septuagint. 

(d) Jacob ofEdessa (d.708) 

Towards the end of his life Jacob made a revision of certain 
books of the Old Testament, combining materials from the Peshitta, 
the Syrohexapla, and his own translation of a Greek Septuagint 
manuscript (or manuscripts) . An edition of his translation of the 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
Books of Samuel, by A.Salvesen, is shortly to be published. 

Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical Books 

These were all translated from Greek, with the exception of 
Bar Sira (Ecclesiasticus), which derives direct from the largely lost 
Hebrew original. The standard edition is by Lagarde (1 96 1 ), 
but the texts will be found in the Mosul and United Bible Societ- 
ies' edition of the Peshitta. 

New Testament 

(a) Peshitta 

The best edition, based on old manuscripts, is that by the 
British and Foreign Bible Societies (1920 and reprints); its 
text is incorporated into the United Bible Societies' edition of 
the whole Synac Bible (1988; see above). This includes the 
minor Catholic epistles (2 Peter, 2-3 John, Jude) and the 
Apocalypse in an anonymous sixth-century translation (these 
books are absent from the Peshitta translation). 

(b) Old Syriac 

The most convenient edition, with facing English translation, 
is by F.C.Burkitt, Evangelion da-Mepharreshe I-H ( 1 904); this gives 
in the text the Curetonianus manuscript, and in the apparatus the 
variants to be found in the Sinaiticus. 

(c) Harklean 

The only complete edition of the NT is still that of J. White, 
with the misleading title Sacromm Evangelioram...versio Syriac a 
Philoxenianal-n (1778, 1799/1803). For recent editions of parts 
of the Harklean NT, see (d), below. 


Particular Topics 

(d) Comparative editions 

For the Gospels, the texts of the Old Syriac, Peshitta and 
Harklean are very conveniently aligned in G.Kiraz, Comparative 
Edition of the Syriac Gospels I-IV (1996). 

For the Epistles, the texts of the Peshitta and Harklean are 
aligned, together with quotations from Syriac writers (and Syriac 
translations from Greek texts) in B .Aland and A.Juckel, Das Neue 
Testament in syrischer Uberliefemng, 1(1886; Catholic Epistles)- 
11.1,(1991; Romans, I Corinthians); II.2, (1995; II Corinthians - 

(a) Concordances 

Concordances are available for the following books: 

- Peshitta OT. Pentateuch: W.Strothmann(1986); Histori- 
cal Books: W.Strothmann (forthcoming); Prophets: W.Strothmann 
(1984); Psalms: N.Sprenger (1976); Ecclesiastes (Pesh and 
Syrohexapla): W.Strothmann (1973); BenSira: M.Winter(1976) 
A complete concordance for the Peshitta OT is in preparation by 
the Peshitta Institute, Leiden. 

- Peshitta NT. G.Kiraz, A Computer-Generated Con- 
cordance to the Syriac NT I- VI (1993). 

(b) Dictionaries (NT) 

W.Jennings, Lexicon to the Syriac NT (1926); 

T.Falla, A Key to the Peshitta Gospels I (alaph to dalath) 

G.Kiraz, Lexical Tools to the Syriac New Testament (1994). 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
(c) Basic introductions 

A.Voobus, in Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Supple- 
ment (1976), 848-54; 

B.M.Metzger, Early Versions of the NT (1977), ch.l; 

P.B.Dirksen, The OT Peshitta, in M J.Mulder (ed.), Miqra 
(1988), 255-97; 


S.P.Brock, in Anchor Dictionary of the Bible, 6 (1992), 794- 

", The Bible in the Syriac Tradition (SEERI Correspon- 
dence Course 1; 1989). 


Several different genres were used for commentaries: 
Commentaries on individual books: e.g. Ephrem, John of 
Apamea, Daniel of Salah etc. 

Commentaries on entire Bible: Isho'dad, Anonymous, 
Dionysius bar Salibi, Barhebraeus. 

Commentaries on Hexaemeron: Narsai (verse), Jacob of 
Serugh (verse), Jacob of Edessa, Moshe bar Kepha, 
Emmanuel bar Shahhare (verse). 

Verse homilies on episodes: Narsai, Jacob of Serugh. 
Scholia: Jacob of Edessa, Theodore bar Koni. 
Questions and Answers: Isho'barnun. 
Theological: Philoxenus. 

Commentary on the Lectionary: Gannat Bussame ('Gar- 
den of Delights' ; E). 

The main translations of Greek exegetical works in Syriac 


Particular Topics 

translation which survive are as follows (given here in alphabetical 

Athanasius, On Psalms; 

Basil, On Hexaeraeron; various homilies on particular 

Cyril of Alexandria, Glaphyra (on Pentateuch); Homilies 
on Luke; 

Eusebius, Questions and Answers on Gospel; 

Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on Song of Songs; 

John Chrysostom, Homilies on New Testament (only a 
few fragments of those on books of the OT, and of some parts 
of the NT, survive); 

Theodore of Mopsuestia; Commentaries on Genesis (frag- 
ments), Psalms (incomplete), Ecclesiastes, John; 

The following gives an approximate chronological table 
(and includes some works not mentioned in Ch.II; works by 
names in brackets do not survive). There is considerable inter- 
action between the E and W Syrian exegetical traditions, and 
through Ibn at Tayyib's Arabic commentaries the East Syrian 
exegetical tradition reaches the later Coptic and Ethiopian Or- 
thodox traditions. 

4th CENT. Ephrem 

5th CENT. Tr. from Greek WE 

Basil, Hexaemeron John of ApameaNarsai Theodore 

5th/6th CENT. Jacob of Semgh 

John Chrysostom Philoxenus 
Eusebius John bar Aphtonia 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
Athanasius Gregory of Nyssa 

Cyril of Alexandria 
6th CENT Daniel of Salah(Ahob) (Hnana) 
7th CENT. Syrohexapla Jacob of Edessa (Gabriel ot Qatar) 
8th CENT.George of Be'eltan Anon, Comm.Gen.-Ex.9 

Theodore bar Koni 
9th CENT. John of Daralsho'barnun 
Moshe bar Kepha Isho'dad of Merv 
Anon, Comm.OT, NT 

10th CENT 

Emmanuel bar Shahhare 

11th CENT. Ibn at Tayyib (Arabic) 

12th CENT. Dionysius bar Salibi 

13th CENT. Barhebraeus Gannat Bussame (Common 


A good introductory guide to Syriac exegetical literature 
on the Old Testament is provided by L.van Rompay, in M.Saebo 
(ed) Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: The History of its Interpre- 
ation, I,i (Gottmgen, 1996), 612-41 [a further instalment will 
appear in a later volume]; and in his 'La litterature exegetique 
syriaque et le rapprochement des ^™*^?^ f * 
syrienne occidentals , Parole de 1' Orient 20 (1995) 221-35 for 
Z New Testament a survey is given by ^McCullo^ m 
Near East School of Theology, Theological Review 5 (1982), 
14-33, 79-126. 



(1) Church of the East: three Anaphoras are in use, the 
principle one being that of Addai and Man (or 'the Apostles ); 


Particular Topics 

this is the oldest surviving Christian anaphora still in use The 
other two anaphoras (both probably translated from Greek) are 
attributed to Theodore of Mopsuestia and to Nestorius. There 
is a critical edition (with a study) of the anaphora of Addai and 
Man by A.Gelston, The Eucharistic Prayer of Addai and Mari 
(1991), and of the anaphora of Theodore by J. Vadakkel. The 
East Syriac Anaphora of Mar Theodore of Mopsuestia (1989) 
Several translations of the three anaphoras exist, e.g K A Paul 
and G.Mooken (1967). 

(2) Syrian Orthodox (and Maronite): over 70 anaphoras 
survive (a list is given in A.Raes, Anaphorae Syriacae I.i (1939),' 
xi-xiv; also in Ephemerides Liturgicae 102 (1988), 441-45)' 
Attributions are to names from the apostolic times to the middle 
ages, and in several cases the attribution may vary in the differ- 
ent manuscripts. Some anaphoras are related to anaphoras in 
other liturgical traditions; thus the Syrian Orthodox anaphora of 
the XII Apostles is related to the Greek anaphora of John 
Chrysostom, and the (Maronite) anaphora known as the Sharrar 
(or Peter III) is related to the East Syrian anaphora of Addai and 
Man. A critical edition of 22 anaphoras, with facing Latin 
translations, is to be found in the series Anaphorae Syriacae 
(Rome, 1939-); the volumes published contain: 

I.i (1939), Timothy of Alexandria, Severas of Antioch- 
In (1940) Gregory of Nazianzus, John Chrysostom, XII Apostles 
HI; Lm (1944) DioscorusI-II, Cyril; Hi (1951) Jacob of Serugh 
Mil, John Saba; Il.ii (1953) James MI, Gregory John; II iii 
(1973) Celestme, Peter III (= Sharrar), Thomas; ffli (1981) 
John of Bosra, Jacob of Edessa, Julius. Latin translations of 
many other unpublished anaphoras can be found in E.Renaudot, 
Liturgiarum Orientalium Collectio II (1716, repr.1847, 1970). ' 

Two current bilingual editions contain quite a large selec- 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
tion of anaphoras: 

A.Konat (ed.; Pampakuda 1986), Syriac-Malayalam: 
James (short), Dionysius bar Salibi I, John Chrysostom [= John 
of Harran], John the Evangelist, Mattai the Shepherd, Eustathius 
I, Julius, Xystus, Peter II, XII Apostles II, Isaac, Abraham the 
Hunter, and one compiled from different anaphoras. 

Mar Athanasius Samuel (ed.; Lodi, NJ, 1991), Syriac- 
English: James, Mark, Peter II, XII Apostles II, John the Evan- 
gelist, Xystus, Julius, John Chrysostom [= John of Harran in 
Raes' list], Cyril of Alexandria, Jacob of Serugh I, Philoxenus I, 
Severas, Dionysius bar Salibi I. 


(1) Church of the East. The present service goes back to 
Isho'yah III (d.659); a translation can be found in Paul and 
Mooken (see above, under anaphoras). 

(2) Syrian Orthodox. The present service is attributed to 
Severas of Antioch; it exists in two somewhat different forms, 
one associated with Antioch, the other with Tagrit. Two other 
baptismal services also survive but are no longer in use, one 
attributed to Timothy of Alexandria, the other anonymous; these 
have several links with the Maronite rite . 

There is a bilingual, Syriac-English, edition of the Antioch 
rite by A.Y.Samuel (1974), who also published bilingual edi- 
tions of the marriage and funeral services (1974); an English 
translation of the Tagrit rite (also in use in India) is to be found in 
M.Elenjikal, Baptism in the Malankara Church (1974). The 
other two old services are translated by S.P.Brock in Le Museon 
63 (1970), 367-431 [Timothy], and Parole de r Orient 8 (1977/ 
8), 3 11-46 [anon.]. 


Particular Topics 

(3) Maronite. The service is attributed to Jacob of Seragh 
(and indeed there are many parallels with his writings). A pho- 
tographic edition of the oldest manuscripts, with French transla- 
tion, is given by A.Mouhanna, Les rites de 1' initiation dans l'eglise 
maronite (1978); a revised text (of 1942) is in current use. 

(4) Melkite. The earliest form of the service, before the 
rite was Byzantinized in the middle ages, survives in a few manu- 
scripts and is attributed to Basil. A short text with some very 
archaic features is also preserved, (ed. and tr. S.P.Brock, Parole 
in rOrient 3 (1972), 119-30). 

Weekday Office and Festal Hymnary (Hudra/Fenqitho) 

(1) Church of the East. ET of weekday office by 
A.J.Maclean, East Syrian Daily Offices (1894, repr. 1969). ET 
of specific parts of the Hudra are to be found in J.Moolan, The 
Period of Annunciation Nativity... (1985); P.Kuruthukulangara, 
The Feast of the Nativity... (1989); and V.Pathikulangara, Res- 
urrection, Life and Renewal... (1982). 

(2) Syrian Orthodox. ET of weekday office (Shehimo) 
by Bede Griffiths, Book of Common Prayer of the Syrian Church 
(1965); adapted ET by Francis Acharya, Prayer with the Harp 
of the Spirit (1980). Adapted ET of Fenqitho by Francis 
Acharya, The Crown of the Year I-III (1982-6). 

(3) Maronite. ET of Fenqitho, The Prayer of the Faithful 
according to the Maronite Liturgical Year I-III (1982-5). 


East Syrian 

The most important collection is a vast corpus of some 80 
texts whose final redaction has been associated with Catholicos 
Elia I (d. 1 049), but which may in fact be somewhat later. The 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
texts are arranged in approximate chronological order, and the 
most important constituent parts are: 

- Pseudo- Apostolic canons (in two collections, of 27 and 
83 canons); 

- Canons of Ancyra, Neocaesarea, Nicaea, Gangra, 
Antioch, Laodicaea, Constantinople I, Carthage, Chalcedon; 

- Letter of Marutha and 73 canons [ET]; 

- Various synodal and other letters; 

- Synods of the Church of the East (often known as the 
'Synodicon Orientate' [FT, ET forthcoming]); this consists of: 
Synod of Isaac (410); Synod of Yahballaha I (419/20); Synod 
of Dadisho' (423/4); Synod of Aqaq (485, 486); Synod of 
Baboi (497); Synod of Aba (543/4); Synod of Joseph (554); 
Synod of Ezekiel (576); Synod oflsho'yab I (585/6); Synod of 
Sabrisho ; (596); Synod of Gregory (605); Synod of Giwargis 
(George) (676). Some further documents are also included. 

- Various monastic rules [ET] ; 

- Statutes of the School of Nisibis [ET]; 

- Legal decisions of Hnanisho' (773-780), Timothy I (780- 
823); Isho'barnun (823-28); 

- Legal compendia by Simeon of Revardashir (7th cent.), 
Isho'bokht (8th/9th cent.) and Abdisho' bar Bahriz (9th cent.); 

- Syro-Roman Law Book; 

- Various documents of Timothy I; 

- Various treatises on inheritance. 

Other East Syrian compendia include those of Gabriel of 
Basra (884/91), which does not survive complete; the 


Canon Law 

Nomocanon [LT] and Rules of ecclesiastical judgements, [LT] 
compiled by 'Abdisho', metropolitan of Soba (Nisibis; = 96 
above); and the Book of the Fathers (Liber Patrum [LT]), at- 
tributed to the fourth-century Catholicos Simeon bar Sabba'e, 
but belonging probably to the 1 3th/ 14th century. An important 
East Syrian compendium of canon law was produced in Arabic 
by Ibn at-Tayyib (d.1043), entitled Fiqh an-Nasraniya (Law of 

Helpful guides to the legal texts of the Church of the East 
can be found in A. Thazhat, The Juridical Sources of the Syro- 
Malabar Church (Kottayam 1987), and in W.Selb, Orientalisches 
Kirchenrecht, I, Die Geschichte des Kirchenrechts der 
Nestorianer (Wien, 1981). In French there is a fine survey 
article on the canon law of the Church of the East by J.Dauvillier 
in Dictionnaire de droit canonique. 

West Syrian 

Several large collections of canon law survive, of some- 
what varying content. One of these manuscripts (Damascus 
Patr. 8/11 of 1204) has been published in full under the title 
'The Synodicon...' [ET]; among the constituent elements of 
this particular collection are the following: 

-Apostolic canons; 

- Apostolic ordinances through Hippolytus; 

- Canons of Nicaea, Ancyra, Neocaesarea, Gangra, 
Antioch, Laodicaea, Constantinople I, Ephesus I, Chalcedon; 

- Canons of John bar Qursos; 

- Canons of Rabbula; 

- Excerpts from Severus' Letters; 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

- Excerpts from Jacob of Edessa; 

- Canons of the patriarchs George, Quryaqos, Dionysius, 
John, and Ignatius; 

- Texts on various topics, e.g. unlawful marriage and in- 
heritance, derived from Muslim law; 

- Syro-Roman Law Book; 

- Many further excerpts from Severus and others; 

- Canons of the monastery of Mar Mattai; 

- Canons of John of Mardm for the monastery of Mar 
Hnanya (= modem Deir ez-Za'faran, outside Mardm). 

Other important collections are the fourth-century 
Didascalia Apostolorum [ET] (lost in Greek), which is incorpo- 
rated into some of the synodical collections; and the Acts of the 
Second Council of Ephesus (449) [GT, ET], preserved in a single 
early manuscript. Barhebraeus' Nomocanon provides a collec- 
tion of canons arranged thematically. 

The best guides to the West Syrian texts are A.Voobus, 
Synsche Kanonessammlungen, IA,B, Westsynsche 
Origmalurkunde (CSCO 307, 317; 1970), 

and W Selb, Orientalisches Kirchenrecht, 2, Die 
Geschichte des Kirchenrechts der Westsyrer (Wien, 1989). 



It is convenient to distinguish between several different 

(1) 3rd/4th century 

In this period the native Syriac ascetic tradition took on 
certain characteristics which distinguish it from early monastic 
developments at the same time in Egypt; the best witness to this 
'proto-monasticism' (as it may be called) is provided by Aphrahat, 
Demonstrations 6-7. The consecrated life is lived within the 
Christian community, either in common households, or within 
the family itself, and not physically withdrawn from it (as was 
the case in Egypt), and evidently certain ascetic vows were 
undertaken (perhaps at baptism, which in those days normally 
took place in adulthood). Two terms in particular are used of 
such people, ihidaye and bnay qyama; although later on ihidaya 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
came to mean 'solitary', or just 'monk' (translating Greek 
monachos), in the fourth century the term had much wider 
connotations, notably 'single' (celibate), 'single-minded', and 
(above all) follower and imitater of Christ the Ihidaya (the term 
which translates Greek monogenes). The origins and semantic 
background of the other term, bnay qyama (singular bar/bath 
qyama) are disputed and the conventional translation 'sons (i.e. 
members) of the covenant' is not certain. It would appear that 
the terms ihidaye and bnay qyama both refer to individuals who 
live a consecrated life; within this group the bthule/bthulatha, 
'virgins' (male and female) are the unmarried, while the qaddishe 
(literally 'holy') are the married couples who have renounced 
sexual intercourse (the term derives from Exodus 19, verses 10, 
15). An important text from the end of this period is the Book 
of Steps (Liber Graduum). 

(2) 5th/6th century 

In this period the indigenous Syrian protomonastic 
tradition became absorbed into the mainstream monastic tradition 
that originated in Egypt in two different forms, the cenobitic 
tradition of Pachomius, and the eremitical tradition of Antony. 
In the course of these two centuries Egyptian monastic tradition 
gained more and more prestige, and all the mam texts concerning 
early Egyptian monasticism were translated from Greek into 
Syriac (notably Athanasius' Life of Antony, Palladius' Lausiac 
History the Historia Monachorum, and various collections of 
Apophthegmata, or Sayings of the Desert Fathers). In due course 
memory of the Syriac protomonastic tradition faded away and 
was forgotten; as a result of this new origins for Syrian 
monasticism were sought out, and the foundation of Syrian and 
Mesopotamia monasticism came to be accredited to the Egyptian 
Mar Awgen (Eugenius) and his disciples. Also translated into 


Monastic Lit. & Spirituality 

Syriac in this period were many other Greek monastic writings, 
notably many works by Evagrius (d.399), the Macarian Homilies, 
Basil's ascetic writings, the Letters of Ammonius, the corpus 
attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, the Asceticon of Abba 
Isaiah, works by Mark the Monk and others. 

The earliest Syriac author of this period is John of 
Apameia (who seems to belong to the early fifth century). 
Though many of his works still remain to be published, John is 
emerging as a figure of major importance, both in his own right, 
and for the influence he evidently had on the later Syriac tradition 
(he is the originator of what became the standard three-fold 
pattern of the spiritual life, the stages of the body, of the soul and 
of the spirit). 

From the 6th century the most important relevant writers 
are Philoxenus and Stephen bar Sudhaili in the West Syriac 
tradition, and Babai the Great in the East (the mid 6th century 
had witnessed a monastic revival, led by Abraham of Kashkar, 
in the Church of the East). 

(3) 7th/8th century 

This is the period of the flowering of the East Syrian 
monastic tradition, which produced a large number of famous 
authors writing on various aspects of the spiritual life, notably 
Sahdona/Martyrius, Isaac of Nineveh, John of Dalyatha (John 
the Elder, or Saba), and Joseph the Seer (Hazzaya). In the 7th 
century 'Ananisho' collected together into a single volume, 
entitled The Paradise of the Fathers, the classic Egyptian monastic 
texts; commentaries on various earlier monastic texts were also 
provided (notably by Dadisho', on Abba Isaiah's Asceticon, and 
on various Apophthegm ata). Several of these East Syriac 
monastic texts evidently reached Palestine in the 8th century: the 


Brief outiine of Syr. Lit. 
homilies forming the 'First Part' of Isaac's works (along with a 
short form of Philoxenus' Letter to Patricius and four homilies 
by John of Dalyatha) were translated into Greek at monastery of 
Mar Saba, while works by a number of different East Syriac 
monastic authors of this period were read and copied in Syriac 
by Chalcedonian Orthodox monks (and survive in the Library of 
St Catherine's Monastery, Sinai). 

West Syriac monastic authors of this period appear to 
have concentrated their energies in different directions: instead 
of writing on monastic topics they engaged in translating and 
commenting on texts of Greek provenance (biblical, ecclesiastical 
and secular). Most famous of these scholar-monks is Jacob of 
Edessa (d.708). (It should be remembered that over the centuries 
it has normally been monastic copyists who have transmitted to 
us the Syriac texts that survive to this day). 

(4) 9th century 

Two important monastic histories, by Isho'dnah and 
Thomas of Marga, belong to this century. 

(5) 12th/13th century 

This was a period of revived literary activity in Syriac, and 
a notable feature is the use of Muslim religious works by some 
Syriac writers: thus, for example, Barhebraeus in his Ethicon 
makes considerable use of an influential work by al-Ghazzali. 

Many relevant texts of this, and later periods, remain 
unpublished, let alone studied. 

The following are the main relevant authors/works, in 
chronological order (numbers in brackets refer to Section III): 



Monastic Lit. 8c Spirituality 

Aphrahat, Demonstrations 6-7 
Liber Graduum/Book of Steps (= 13). 
5th/6th centuries 

(a) Syrlac writers 

John of Apamea (John the Solitary) (= 16). 

Jacob of Serugh (= 20), various memre and letters. 

Philoxenus (= 22), Discourses, Letter to Patricius, and other 

Isaac of Antioch (= 23), various memre. 

Stephen bar Sudhaili (= 26), Book of the Holy Hierotheos. 

Sergius of Resh'aina (= 27), On the spiritual life. 

(b) Translations from Greek 

Evagrius, numerous works 
Macarian Homilies 
Athanasius, Life of Antony 
Palladius, Lausiac History 
Historia Monachorum 

Apophthegmata/Sayings of the Desert Fathers 
Ammonas, Letters 
Abba Isaiah, Asceticon 
Mark the Monk, various works 

'Dionysius the Areopagite' (first translation, by Sergius) 
Theodore of Mopsuestia, lost book on 'the Perfection of 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
the Way of Life' . 

6th/7th centuries 

(a) Syriac writers 

Abraham of Nathpar (=38). 

Shubhalmaran (= 42) 

Babai (= 43), Commentary on Evagrius' Centuries; (lost 
'Book of Perfection') 

Marty rius/Sahdona (= 44), Book of Perfection. 

Gregory of Cyprus (= 48). 

' Ananisho ', compiler of Book of the Paradise (of Egyptian 

Isaac of Nineveh (= 55). 

S hem 'on d-Taybutheh (=56). 


(b) translations from Greek 

'Dionysius the Areopagite' (second translation, by Phokas, 
late 7th cent.) 

John Climacus, The Spiritual Ladder. 
8th century 

John of Dalyatha (John the Elder/Saba) (= 66). 

Joseph Hazzaya (= 67). 
9th century 

Monastic histories by Thomas of Marga (= 79) and 
13th century 


Monastic Lit. & Spirituality 

Barhebraeus (= 95), Book of the Dove, Ethicon. 

(Many monastic writings from the 7th century onwards 
remain unpublished). 

Excerpts in translation can be found in: 

S.P.Brock, The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual 
Life (Kalamazoo 1987), 

A.Mingana, Early Christian Mystics (Woodbrooke Studies 
7, 1934). 

The following works provide a general orientation: 

S.Beggiani, Introduction to Eastern Christian Spirituality: 
the Syriac Tradition (Scranton 199 1). 

R.Beulay, La lumiere sans forme. Introduction a 1' etude 
de la mystique chretienne syro- orientate (Chevetogne 


G.Blum, Mysticism in the Syriac Tradition (SEERI 
Correspondence Course 7, 1990). 

R.C.Bondi, 'The spirituality of Syriac-speaking Christians', 
in B. McGinn and J.Meyendorf (eds), Christian Spirituality. 
Origins to Twelfth Century (London 1986), 152-61. 

S.P.Brock, 'Syriac spirituality', in C.P.M. Jones and others 
(eds), The Study of Spirituality (London 1986), 199-21 5. 

" , Spirituality in the Syriac Tradition (SEERI, Moran 
Etho series 2, 1989). 

A.Guillaumont and I.H.Dalmais, Syriaque (spiritualite), in 
Dictionnaire de Spiritualite 14 (1990), 1429-50. 

A.Voobus, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient (3 
vols, CSCO Subs.; 1958, 1960, 1988). 


Brief outline of Syr, Lit. 
P.Yousif , 'An introduction to the East Syrian Spirituality' , 
in A. Thottakara (ed.), East Syrian Spirituality (Bangalore 
1990), 1-97. 

For the early period (especially 4th cent.) and the distinctive 
Syriac 'proto-monastic' tradition the following are helpful: 

S. Abouzayd, Ihidayutha: a study of the life of singleness 
in the Syrian Orient (Oxford 1 993) . 

E.Beck, 'Asceticisme et monachisme chez s.Ephrem', 
U Orient Syri'en 3 (1958), 273-98. 

S.P.Brock, 'Early Syrian asceticism', Numen 20 (1973), 
1-19, reprinted in Syriac Perspectives on Late Antiquity 

(London 1984). 

" : v The ascetic ideal: St Ephrem and proto-monasticism', 
in his The Luminous Eye (Rome 1985/Kalamazoo 1992), ch. 8. 
S.Griffith, 'Singles in God's service...' , The Harp 4 (1991), 

" v Monks, "Singles" and the "Sons of the Covenant"...' , 
in Eulogema: Studies in honor of R-Taft (Studia Anselmiana 
110, 1994), 141-60. 

" , ^Asceticism in the Church of Syria. The hermeneutics 
of early Syrian monasticism' , in V.L.Wimbush and R. Valantasis 
(eds), Asceticism (1995), 220-48). 

A.Guillaumont, Aux origines du monachisme chretien 
(Abbaye de Bellefontaine 1979). 

T.Koonammakkal, 'Early Christian monastic origins. A 
general introduction in the context of Syriac Orient', The 
Christian Orient 13 (1992), 139-62. 

R.Murray, 'The exhortation to candidates for ascetical vows 



at baptism in the ancient Syriac Church' , New Testament Studies 
21 (1974/5), 59-80. 

" , v The characteristics of the earliest Syriac Christianity', 
in N.Garsoian and others (eds), East of Byzantium. Syria and 
Armenia in the Formative Period (Washington DC 1982), 3-16 

G.Nedungatt, 'The covenanters of the early Syriac - 
speaking church', Orientalia Christiana Periodica 39 (1973), 191- 

C.Stewart, Working the Earth of the Heart: the Messalian 
Controversy in History, Texts and Language to AD 43 1 (Oxford 
1991). [Of relevance to the Book of Steps]. 

Many good articles on individual authors of all periods 
can be found in the Dictionnaire de Spiritualite. A collection of 
some surviving monastic rules can be found in A.Voobus, Syriac 
and Arabic Documents regarding Legislation relative to Syrian 
Asceticism (Stockholm 1960). 


Historical writing in Syriac has taken on several different 
forms. For World History (beginning with Creation) and for 
Church History the models were provided by Eusebius of 
Caesarea, whose Chronicon and Church History were both 
translated into Syriac (though neither survives in complete form). 
The earliest Syriac writer to compose a World History was Jacob 
of Edessa (d.708), but of this only fragments survive; for 
Ecclesiastical History the earliest Syriac writer was John of 
Ephesus (= 34; late 6th cent). Earlier historical writing in Syriac 
took the form of local histories, the earliest to survive being the 
work usually known today as that of 'Joshua the Stylite' (= 25), 
belonging to the early sixth century. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
Many Syriac chronicles and other historical works no longer 
survive, or are only partially known through their re-use by later 
writers. A particularly important chronicle which is now lost is 
that of the Syrian Orthodox patriarch Dionysius of Telmahre 
(d845) covering AD 582-842; considerable use of it, however, 
was made by both Michael the Great (= 89) and the anonymous 
author of the chronicle to the year 1234 (= 93), so that a certain 
amount of it can be approximately reconstructed. 

The seventh century, in particular, produced a number of 
apocalyptic texts, where descriptions of contemporary events are 
provided with an apocalyptic outcome; notable examples are 
the poem on Alexander the Great (= 49), from the late 620s, and 
the Apocalypse of Ps. Methodius (= 59), of c.691/2. 

- Surviving World Histories (covering from Creation to 
the time of the author): 

Ps.Dionysius of Telmahre/Zuqnin Chronicle (= 69). 
Michael the Great (= 89) . 

Anonymous (= 93), Chronicle up to the year 1234. 
Barhebraeus (= 95), Chronicon. 

- Ecclesiastical Histories: 
John of Ephesus (= 34). 
Ps.Zacharias Rhetor (= 36). 
Barhadbeshabba ' Arbaya (= 40). 
Barhebraeus (= 95), Ecclesiastical History. 

- Local histories: 
'Joshua the Stylite' (=25). 

Chronicle of Edessa (= 33). 



[Chronicle of Arbela: great uncertainty surrounds this 
work: the editor (Mingana) claimed it as a sixth-century work, 
but according to some it could be the work of Mingana 
himself; at present the matter remains unresolved] . 

Khuzistan Chronicle (=53). 

Many shorter, or fragmentary, chronicles also survive. For 
monastic histories, see (e) above. 

For a general orientation the following are useful: 
S.P.Brock, 'Syriac sources for seventh-century history', 
Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 2 (1976), 17-36, reprinted 
in Syriac Perspectives on Late Antiquity (1984), ch.7. 

" , v Syriac historical writing: a survey of the main sources', 
Journal of the Iraqi Academy (Syriac Corporation) 5 (1979/80), 
297-326, reprinted in Studies in Syriac Christianity (1992), ch. 1 . 

L.Conrad, 'Syriac perspectives on Bilad al-Sham during 
theAbbasidperiod',inM.A.Al- Bakhit and R.Schick 

(eds), Bilad al-Sham during the Abbasid Period: 5th 
International Conference (Amman 1991), 1-44. 

J-M.Fiey, 'Les chroniquers syriaques avaient-ils le sens 
critique?' Parole de l'Orient 12 (1984/5)," 253-64. 

P.Nagel, 'Grundzuge syrischer Geschichtsschreibung' , in 
Berliner Byzantinische Arbeiten 55 (1990), 245-59. 

A.N.Palmer, The Seventh Century in the West-Syrian 
Chronicles (1993). [Translations of excerpts with introductions]. 

J.B.Segal, 'Syriac chronicles as source material for the 
history oflslamic peoples', in B.Lewis and P.M.Holt (eds), 
Historians of the Middle East (1962), 246-58. 

W.Witakowski, The Syriac Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius 
ofTel-Mahre. A Study in the History of Historiography 
(Uppsala 1987). 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit, 


This can conveniently be divided into (1) popular, and 
(2) learned. 

(1) Popular literature. 

Much of this literature is international in character, and 
can be found translated into many different languages . Notable 
examples are: 

- The Story of Ahikar (= III. 10). Originating probably in 
the sixth or fifth century BC, this Aramaic story was translated 
into Greek in the Hellenistic period; though this Greek version 
does not survive, it provided the source for a section, based on 
Ahikar, in the extant Greek Life of Aesop; it also served as the 
basis for the later translations of the Story of Ahikar into Slavonic. 
The Syriac form of the story survives in several slightly different 
forms, and it was from Syriac that the other oriental versions 
ultimately arrive (Arabic, Armenian, Old Turkish, Modem Syriac 

- Aesop's Fables. The Fables of Aesop are much older 
than the Life of Aesop, and they are transmitted in a number of 
different forms. A collection of them came to be translated into 
Syriac (ed. + FT, B.Lefevre, 1941), and there the name Aisopos 
came to be corrupted into losipos (i.e. Josephus !). The Syriac 
in turn served as the basis for a translation into Arabic (where 
Aesop now takes on the name Loqman), and back (!) into Greek 
(at Melitene, end of the 1 1th century) where the work is attributed 
to 'Syntipas' - since it was translated at the same time as the 
story of Sindbad (= Greek Syntipas), another popular work, 
perhaps of Middle Persian origin. 

- Kalilah and Dimnah. This collection of delightful Indian 
animal stories (which are preserved in the Pancatantra) was 


Secular Literature 

translated into Middle Persian (lost) in the sixth century, and 
thence (by a certain Budh) into Syriac; this first Syriac translation 
is the earliest extant witness to the collection in the Middle East/ 
West Asia. The Middle Persian text was translated into Arabic 
in the 9th century by Ibn al Muqaffa', and from this Arabic 
version a second Syriac translation was made (at an unknown 
date). The Arabic was also the source for many other medieval 
translations, into Persian, Greek, Spanish and Hebrew, and it 
was through these translations that the work reached western 
Europe in the 16th and 17th century (under the name 'Bidpay' or 
'Pilpay'), where it was to enjoy immense popularity. (For translations 
of the two Syriac versions, see Section V). 

- The History of Alexander the Great, by Pseudo- 
Callisthenes, was another text which caught the popular 
imagination and so got translated (from Greek) into many different 
languages, both oriental and western. The Syriac version (ed. + 
EXE.A.W.Budge, 1 889) surprisingly was not translated direct 
from Greek, but comes by way of a lost Middle Persian version; 
the work gave rise to a number of Syriac works devoted to the 
theme of Alexander, notably along apocalyptic poem of the early 
seventh century (= 111.49), which is often wrongly attributed to 
Jacob of Serugh. 

(2) Learned literature 

This may concern a variety of different fields, natural 
sciences, geography, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, 
philosophy, rhetoric etc. It needs to be remembered that many 
works in these areas have been lost. Surviving works devoted 
specifically to natural sciences are rare (Job of Edessa's Book of 
Treasures, 111.73, is exceptional in this respect), and for the most 
part these topics (and geography) are dealt with in the course of 
commentaries on the Six Days of Creation (Hexaemeron) : thus 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
the Hexaemeron commentaries by Jacob of Edessa and Moshe 
bar Kepha, in particular, contain a great deal of material relevant 
to these subjects. On astronomy works by Sergius of Resh 'aina, 
Severus Sebokht and (above all) Barhebraeus survive. In the 
Abbasid period (especially 8th/9th century) Gundishapor (Beth 
Lapat) was famous for its Syriac medical school, and many 
medical works in Syriac were produced at this period, although 
only very few of these survive. One particularly influential work 
was Hunayn ibn Ishaq's Medical Questions: this work, which is 
extant in both Syriac and Arabic, was translated into Latin, where 
it was known as the Eisagoge (Introduction) of loannitius, and 
has been described as 'one of the most widely diffused early 
translations of Arabic medicine' in western Europe. 

The first Syriac author to pay serious attention to Greek 
philosophy was Sergius of Resh'aina (III. 27), who provided 
Syriac readers with introductions to the earlier of Aristotle's logical 
works (the Organon), which formed the basis of all higher 
education in Late Antiquity. Many subsequent writers dealt 
with similar topics, and several provided commentaries, either to 
specific books within the Organon (thus Probus, who perhaps 
belongs to the 6th century), or to the entire Organon (thus 
Dionysius bar Salibi and Barhebraeus). Others, like Severus 
Sebokht, Athanasius of Balad and Jacob of Edessa in the seventh 
century, provided introductory materials for the benefit of Syriac 
readers embarking on philosophical studies. The 1 2th and 13th 
centuries witnessed a great deal of activity of an encyclopaedic 
nature, covering all areas of human knowledge; many of the 
relevant texts still await proper publication and study: remarkably, 
this even applies to Barhebraeus' largest and most important 
encyclopedic work on philosophy, the Cream of Sciences. (For 
translations from Greek, see below). 


Secular Literature 

In the field of rhetoric the main works are by Anton of 
Tagrit, Jacob bar Shakko, and Barhebraeus. The standard Greek 
grammar of Late Antiquity, by Dionysius Thrax, was translated 
(and adapted) into Syriac as early as the sixth century. 


Syriac writers also played a very important role in translating 
Greek scientific, medical and philosophical works. This took 
place in three main phases: (1) sixth-century translations, 
sometimes fairly interpretative in character; (2) seventh- century 
revisions, or new translations, usually aiming to reproduce the 
original Greek very accurately; and (3) ninth-century translations 
(and revisions), usually serving as a stepping-stone to translation 
into Arabic. 

One of the earliest Syriac writers to undertake this sort of 
work was Sergius of Resh'aina who, besides translating the 
Dionysian Corpus into Syriac, also translated an influential 
pseudo- Aristotelian treatise 'On the Universe', and Alexander 
of Aphrodisias' 'Causes of the Universe' (lost in the Greek 
original), together with a considerable number of works by Galen. 
Various anonymous translations of more popular Greek 
philosophical literature of an ethical nature were probably 
undertaken in this earlier period: these include translations of 
treatises by Isocrates, Lucian, Plutarch, Themistius, as well as a 
pseudo-Platonic dialogue on the soul (whose Greek original is 
lost), various sayings of Greek philosophers (among them, the 
Pythagorean woman philosopher Theano). Also belonging to 
this first period will be the earliest translations of Aristotle's logical 
works (which formed the basis of higher education in Late 
Antiquity and the Middle Ages), together with Porphyry's 
Introduction (Eisagoge) to them (these translations have 
sometimes been attributed to Sergius, but for not good reason). 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
During the second period a number of revised (and more 
literal) translations were made of books of the Organon; many 
of the scholars engaged in this work seem to have had connections 
with the monastery of Qenneshre (on the Euphrates); prominent 
among them was the Syrian Orthodox patriarch- Athanasius II 
(d.687) and George, bishop of the Arab Tribes (d.724). 

The third period (late eighth and especially, ninth century) 
witnessed a great flurry of translation activity from Greek into 
both Syriac and Arabic, thanks to the general patronage of a 
number of the Abbasid caliphs and the growing interest of Arab 
scholars in the heritage of Greek philosophy and science. Many 
of the earlier translators belonged to one or other of the Syriac 
Churches, and frequently they found it more convenient to 
translate first from Greek into Syriac (for which there was the 
advantage of several centuries of translation experience), and 
then from Syriac into Arabic (for which there was no prior 
experience). The most famous of these translators was Hunayn 
ibn Ishaq (d.c.873), whose translation work covered biblical, 
medical and philosophical texts (he was also an author in his 
own right). 

Since Arabic tended to replace Syriac as a vehicle for 
learned secular literature in the Middle Ages, many Syriac 
translations ceased to be copied (this seems to apply especially 
to those made in the third period); thus it is known from 
quotations in Syriac authors such as Moshe bar Kepha, John of 
Dara, Dionysius bar Salibi, Jacob bar Shakko, Barhebraeus and 
others, that many Greek scientific, medical and philosophical 
works must once have existed in Syriac translation, even though 
no manuscripts of these survive - or where they do, they are in a 
very fragmentary state (this applies, for example, to the Syriac 
versions of Euclid and of Theophrastus' Meteorology). 


Secular Literature 

General orientations, and guides to particular topics, can 
be found in the following: 

S.PBrock, 'Greek into Syriac and Syriac into Greek' , = 
ch.2 in SPB, Syriac Perspectives on Late Antiquity 
(London 1984). 

" , "From antagonism to assimilation: Syriac attitudes to 
Greek learning ' , = ch 5 in Syriac Perspectives . 

" , 'Towards a history of Syriac translation technique' , III 
Symposium Syriacum (OCA 221, 1982), 1-14, = Studies in 
Syriac Christianity (Aldershot 1992), ch. 

" , "The Syriac background to Hunayn's translation 
techniques', Aram 3 (1991), 139-62. 

" , "The Syriac Commentary tradition' [on Aristotle's 
Organon], in C.Burnett (ed.), Glosses and Commentaries on 
Aristotelian Logical Texts (London 1993), 3-18. 

R.Degen, 'Ein Corpus medicorum syriacorum', Medizin- 
historisches Journal 7 (1972), 114- 22. 

" , "Galen im syrischen', in V.Nutton (ed), Galen: 
Problems and Prospects (London 1981), 131-66. 

De Lacy o'Leary, How Greek Science passed to the Arabs 

M.Dols, 'Syriac into Arabic: the transmission of Greek 
medicine', Aram 1 (1989), 45-52. 

G.Endress, 'Philosphie und Wissenschaften bei den 
Syrern' , in H.Gaetje, Grundriss der Arabischen Philologie II 
(Wiesbaden 1987X407-12. 

H.Hugonnard-Roche, 'Aux origines de 1'exegese orientate 
delalogiqued'Aristote: Sergius de Resh'aina', Journal 
asiatique 277 (1989), 1-17. 

" , N L' intermediate syriaque dans la transmission de la 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit, 

philosophic grecque a l'arabe: ie cas de 1'Organon 
d'Aristote', Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 1 (1991), 187-209. 

" , "Note sur Sergius de Resh"aina, traducteur du grec en 
syriaque etc ommentateur d'Aristote 5 , in G.Endress and 
R.Kruk (eds), The Ancient Tradition in Christian and 
Islamic Hellenism (Leiden 1997), 121-43. 

G.Panicker, The Book of Treasures' [by Job of Edessa], 
The Harp 8/9 (1995/6), 151-9. 

F.E.Peters, 'The Greek and Syriac background', in 
S.Hossein Nasr and O.Leaman (eds), History of Islamic 
Philosophy (London 1996), 40-51. 

G.Strohmaier, 'Hunayn ibn Ishaq - an Arab scholar 
translating into Syriac', Aram 3 (1991), 163-70. 

G.Troupeau, 'Le role des syriaques dans la transmission 
etFexploitationdupatrimoinephilosophique et scientifique 
grec', Arabica 38 (1991), 1-10. 

J.Watt, 'Grammar, rhetoric and the Enkyklios Paideia in 
Syriac' , Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 
143 (1993), 45-71. 

" , "The Syriac reception of Platonic and Aristotelian 
rhetoric', Aram 5 (1993), 579-601. 

M.Zonta, Fonti greche e orientali delPEconomia di Bar- 
Hebraeus nelF opera La Crema della Scienza' , (Naples 1 992) . 




A vast number of translations, mainly from Greek, were made 
into Syriac, above all during the 5th-9th centuries. The earliest 
translations are often quite free (and are sometimes much expanded), 
but in the 6th and especially the 7th century a much more literal 
style of translation came into favour, and many older translations 
were then revised (or sometimes, completely new ones provided); 
a further wave of translations came in the late eighth and ninth cen- 
turies, as part of the general interest at that time in translating Greek 
philosophical and scientific literature into Arabic (often done by 
way of Syriac). 

The following are the main surviving translations into Syriac 
(from Greek unless otherwise stated; * denotes that the Greek origi- 
nal is wholly or mostly lost). 

2nd cent(?) 

before 411 

4th/5th cent. 

Peshitta OT (from Hebrew) 
Diatessaron (lost, apart from quotations) 
Old Syriac Gospels [ET] 
Much of OT 'apocrypha' 
Clementine Recognitions 
*Titus of Bostra, Against the 
*Eusebius, Theophania 
*Eusebius, Palestinian Martyrs [ET] 
Eusebius, Church History 
Josephus, Wars Book VI 


5th cent. 

5th/6th cent. 

Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
*Didascalia [ET] 

Basil, On the Holy Spirit, On the 
Hexaemeron [ET], various Homilies 
^Theodore of Mopsuestia, Commentary 
on John [LT] 

*Theodore of Mopsuestia, Catechetical 
Homilies [ET] 

*Syro-Roman Law Book 

*Aristeid£s, Apology [ET] 

*Evagrius, various works 

*Epiphanius, On Weights and Measures 


John Chrysostom, Commentaries and 

various other works 

Gregory of Nyssa. Comm. on Song of 

Songs, various other works 

Gregory of Nazianzus, Homilies (1st 


Athanasius, Life of Antony [ET], various 

other works [ETJ 

Cyril of Alexandria, various works 

Macarius, Homilies [GT] 

Ignatius of Antioch, Letters [ET] 

Nilus, monastic writings [IT] 

Palladius, Lausiac History [ET] 

Historia Monachorum [ET] 

Apophthegmata (Sayings of the Desert 

Fathers) [ET] 

Ammonius, Letters [ET] 

Abba Isaiah, Asceticon [FT] 


Translations Into Syriac 

Themistius, Lucian, Ps.Plutarch (various 
6th cent. Dionysius the Areopagite (1 st translation, 

by Sergius of Resh'aina) 
*Severus of Antioch, Cathedral Homilies 
(1st translation, by Paul of Kallinikos) 
*Seveais of Antioch, various other works 
Joseph and Aseneth 
*Life of Peter the Iberian [GT] 
*Zacharias, Life of Severus [FT] 
♦Nestorius, Bazaar of Heracleides [ET, 

Mark the Monk 

Kalilah and Dimnah (from Middle 
Persian) [GT] 

Alexander Romance (from Middle 
Persian) [ET] 
Porphyry, Eisagoge (1st translation) 

Galen, various works (tr. by Sergius of 


Aristotle, early books of Organon (1st 

7th cent. Syrohexapla OT (tr. by Paul of Telia) 

Harklean NT (tr. by Thomas of Harkel) 

Basil, Homilies (2nd translation) 

*Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on 

Luke [ET, FT] 

Gregory of Nazianzus, Homilies (2nd 

translation, by Paul of Edessa). 

*Athanasius, Festal Letters [ETJ 



late 8th/9th i cnt. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

* Severus, Homilies (revised translation by 

Jacob of Edessa) [FT] 

*Severus, Select Letters (tr. by Athanasius 


Porphyry, Eisagoge (2nd translation, by 

Athanasius of Balad) 

Dionysius the Areopagite (2nd 

translation, by Phokas of Edessa) 

John Klimakos, The Ladder. 

(This was a period of great translation 

activity from Greek into Arabic, especially 

of philosophical, medical and scientific 

works; although the names of many of 

the translators are known, the 

intermediary Syriac translations of this 

period are for the most part lost). 

Kalilah and Dimnah (from Arabic) [ET] 

Sindbad (from Arabic) [ET] 



The following provides a guide to translations available for 
the authors covered in Section III and translations into Syriac men- 
tioned in Section V; only where English translations are absent or 
inadequate is reference made to translations into other modern Ian - 



Guide to Engl. Translations 

guages. The numbers for Syriac authors are those of Section III; 
an asterisk in the present chapter indicates that an edition of the 
Syriac original is included. Fuller bibliographical details can be 
found by consulting the Syriac bibliographies by C.Moss (covering 
up to 1960) and S.P.Brock (1960-1990), for whose titles see Sec- 
tion VIII. 

(4) BOOK of the LAWS of the COUNTRIES (School of 
BARDAISAN): *W.Cureton, Spicilegium Syriacum (1855), 3- 
34, and *HJ.W.Drijvers (1965). 

(5) ODES of SOLOMON: *J.H.Charlesworth (1973); a 
better translation, by J.A.Emerton, in H.F.D. Sparks (ed.), The 
Apocryphal Old Testament (Oxford, 1884), 683-731. 

(6) ACTS of THOMAS: *W.Wright(1871); A.EJ.Klijn 
(1962), with introduction. 

(7) MELITO, Apology: *W.Cureton, Spicilegium 
Syriacum (1855), 41-51. 

(8) MENANDER, Sayings: T.Baarda, in J.H.Charlesworth 
(ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha II (1985), 591- 
606 (with good introduction). 

(9) MARA, Letter to Serapion: *W.Cureton, Spicilegium 
Syriacum (1855), 70-76. Cp K.McVey, in V Symposium 
Syriacum (1990), 257-72. 

(10) AHIKAR: *J.R.Harris, F.C.Conybeare, A.SXewis, 
The Story of Ahikar (1913). 

(11) APHRAHAT, Demonstrations: 1,5,6,8,10,17,21,22 
in J.Gwynn, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post Nicene Fa- 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

thers 11.13 (1898). 11-13, 15-19, 21, part of 23 in 
J.Neusner, Aphrahat and Judaism (1971). 2 and 7 in Journal of 
the Society for Oriental Research 14 (1930) and 16 (1932). 4 
in S.P.Brock, The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual 
Life (1987), 5-25. Complete French translation by M- 
J.Pierre in Sources Chretiennes 349 and 359; complete German 
translation by P.Bruns (1991-2). 

( 1 2) EPHREM. The following are the main English trans- 
lations available (in chronological order): 

- J.B. Morris, Select Works of StEphrem the Syrian (1847). 
Includes the only complete English translation of Hymns on Faith. 

- H.Burgess, Select Metrical Hymns and Homilies of 
Ephrem Syrus (1853); The Repentance of Nineveh (1853). 

- J.Gwynn (ed.), A Select Library of Nicene and Post 
Nicene Fathers 11.13 (1898). Includes Nisibene Hymns 1-21, 
35-42, 62-68; Hymns on Epiphany 

- *C.W.Mitchell, Prose Refutations I-II (1912, 1921). 

- S.P.Brock, The Harp of the Spirit. Poems of St Ephrem 
(1975; selection of 12 poems; 2nd edn 1983; 18 poems). 

- J.Lieu, in S.N.C.Lieu, The Emperor Julian (1986, 2nd 
edn 1989). Hymns on Julian. 

- K.McVey, Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns (1989). Includes 
Hymns on Nativity, on Virginity, and on Julian. 

- S.P.Brock, St Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on Paradise 


Guide to Engi. Translations 

- C.McCarthy, StEphrem, Commentary on the Diatessaron 


- E.G.Mathews and J.P.Amar, St Ephrem the Syrian. 
Selected Prose Works. Includes Commentaries on Genesis and 
on Exodus, Homily on our Lord, and Letter to Publius. 

- A.G.Salvesen, Ephrem, Commentary on Exodus (1995). 

For further details, consult S.P.Brock, 'A brief guide to 
the main editions and translations of the works of Saint 
Ephrem', The Harp 3 (1990), 1-29. 

(13) BOOK of STEPS: Complete translation by R.Kitchen 
in preparation (Cistercian Studies, Kalamazoo), ch.12: in 
R.Murray, Symbols of Church and Kingdom (1975), 264-8; 
ch. 12 and 18: in S.Brock, The Syriac Fathers on Prayer (1987), 

(14) CYRILLONA: FT by D.Cerbelaud, Cyrillonas, 
L' Agneau veritable (1984). 

(15) BALAI: On dedication of church in Qenneshrin, 
K.McVey, in Aram 5 (1993), 359-67. (16) JOHN the SOLITARY: 

- Dialogue on Soul, FT by I.Hausherr (OCA 120, 1939); ET 
by Mary Hansbury in preparation. 

- Three Letters, GT by *L.G.Rignell (1941). 

- Six Dialogues etc., G.T. by *W.Strothmann (1972); FT 
by R.Lavenant (Sources chretiennes 311, 1984). 

- Three Discourses, GT (or summary) by *L.G.Rignell 
( 1 960) ; ET of no. 1 by [D.Miller] , Ascetic Homilies of St 
Isaac the Syrian (1984), 461-6. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

- Letter to Hesychius, S.RBrock, The Syriac Fathers on 
Prayer (1987), 81-98. 

- On Prayer, *S.RBrockin Journal of Theological Stud- 
ies 30 (1979), 84-101; ET repr. in Ascetic Homilies of St 
Isaac the Syrian (1984), 466-8. 

(17) ANONYMOUS POETRY: - On Abraham and Sarah 
inEgypt, *S.P.Brock, LeMuseon 105 (1992), 104-32. 

- On Sacrifice of Isaac, *S.P.Brock, Le Museon 99 
(1986), 108-12, 122-5. 

- On Joseph, nos 3-4, A.S.Rodrigues Pereira, Jaarbericht 
Ex Oriente Lux 31 (1989/90), 95-120. 

- On Elijah, *S.P.Brock, Le Museon 89 (102), 106-10. 

- Memra on Mary and Joseph, S.P.Brock, Bride of Light 
(1994), 146-60. 

- Soghitho on Abel and Cain, *FFeldmann, Syrische 
Wechsellieder(1896); on Mary and Angel, Mary and 
Magi, S.P.Brock, Bride of Light (1994), 111-32; John the 
Baptist and Christ, Cherub and Thief, S.P. Brock, Syriac Dia- 
logue Hymns (1987); Dispute of Months, *S.P.Brock, Jour- 
nal of Semitic Studies 30 (1985), 193-6. 

(18) ANONYMOUS PROSE: - (Abraham of Qidun and) 
Mary, S.P.Brock and S.A.Harvey, Holy Women of the Syr- 
ian Orient (1987), 29-36. 

-Man of God, FT by A.Amiaud (1889); ET(ofFT) 
by C J.Odenkirchen (1978). 


Guide to Engl. Translations 

- Shmona, Gurya and Habbib, *F.C.Burkitt, Euphemia 
and the Goth (1913) 

- Teaching of Addai, *G.Phillips (1 876) and * W.Howard 
(1981); Martyrdoms of Sharbel and Barsamya, 
*W.Cureton, Ancient Syriac Documents (1864), 41-72. 

- Euphemia and the Goth, *F.C.Burkitt, Euphemia and 
the Goth (1913). 

--, - Martyrdom of Martha etc., Brock and Harvey, Holy 
Women, 67-81. 


- Martyrdom of Anahid, Brock and Harvey, Holy Women, 

- Symeon the Stylite, R.Doran (1992). 

- Julian Romance, H.Gollancz, Julian the Apostate (1 928). 

- Life of Rabbula (in preparation by R.Doran). 

- On Abraham and Isaac, *S.P.Brock, Orientalia 
Lovaniensia Periodica 12 (1981), 225-60. 


Brief outline of Syr. Li,t. 

(19) NARSAI: - memre on Creation, FT by *P.GignOux, 
PO 34 (1968). 

- memre on liturgy, R.H.Connolly (1908); memra 17, 
G.Vavanikunnel, Homilies ...on Holy Qurbana (1977) 55-84; 

- memre on dominical feasts, *F.G.McLeod, PO 40 (1979); 

- memre on OT topics, *J.Frishman (diss. Leiden 1992). 

- memre on Gospel parables, *FT by E.PSiman (1984). 

- memre on Three Doctors, FT by *F.Martin, Journal 
asiatique 15 (1900), 469-525. 

(20) JACOB of SERUGH: 

- memre on Virgin Mary, IT by C.Vona (1953); ET by 
M.Hansbury forthcoming; 

- memre against Jews, FT by *M.Albert, PO 38 (1976); 

- memre on dominical feasts, ET by T.Kollamparampil in 

- memre on Creation, FT by *Kh.Alwan, CSCO Syr 214- 
5 (1989); 

- memra on the Veil of Moses, S.P.Brock, Sobornost/ECR 
3(1981), 70-85; 

- memra oh Simeon the Stylite, S AHarvey, in V.L.Wimbush 
(ed.), Ascetic Behavior.. A Sourcebook (1990), 15-28; 

- memra on Ephrem, *J.Amar, PO 47 (1995); 

- prose homilies, FT by F.Rilliet, PO 43 (1986); ET by 
T.Kollamparampil in preparation; 

- memre on Thomas, GT by W.Strothmann. GOFS 12 


Guide to Engl. Translations 

- memra on Melkizedek, J.ThSkeparampil, Harp 6 (1993), 

- A number of mem re are to be found translated in The 
True Vine 1- (1989-); for FT of certain of the Letters, see 
the bibliographies cited in Section VIII. 

(21) SIMEON the POTTER: S.P.Brock, A Garland of 
Hymns from the Early Church (1989), 94-102. 


- Ascetical Discourses, *E.A.W.Budge (1894); FT 
E.Lemoine (Sources chretiennes 44, 1956); 

- Memre against Habib, LT/FT by *M.Briere and F.Graffin, 
PO 15, 38-41 (1920, 1977-82); 

- Memre on Trinity, LT by *A.Vaschalde, CSCO Syr 9- 
10 (1907); 

- Commentary on the Prologue of John, FT by * 
Halleux, CSCO Syr 165-6 (1977); 

- Commentary on Matthew and Luke, * J. Watt, CSCO Syr 

- Memra on the Annunciation, GT by P.Kruger, OCP 20 

(1954), 153-65; 

- On Indwelling of Holy Spirit, S.P.Brock, Syriac Fathers 
on Prayer, 106-27. 

- Letters (see entries on Philoxenus in the bibliographies 
cited in Section VIII. 


- Memra on Constantinople, *C.Moss, Zeitschrift fur 
Semitistik 7 (1929), 298-306. 


Brief outline of Syr, Lit. 

- Against the Jews, * S.Kazan, OC 46 (1962), 87-98; 

- On incarnation, FT by P.Feghali, PdO 10 (1981/2). 79- 
102; 11 (1983), 201-22; 

- LT of 37 texts (including some madrashe) by *G.Biekell (1 873). 

(24) SYMMACHUS: *S.P.Brock, Le Museon 87 (1974). 

(25) 'JOSHUA the STYLITE': *W. Wright (1882); new 
ET in preparation by J. Watt. 

(26) STEPHEN BAR SUDHAILI: *ES.Marsh, The Book 
of the Holy Hierotheos (1927). 

(27) SERGIUS of RESH'AINA: FT by *P.Sherwood, 
U Orient Syrien 5 (1960), 433-57; 6 (1961), 95-1 15, 121-56. 


- 1st Letter on Najran Martyrs, A.Jeffrey, Anglican 
Theological Review 27 (1945), 195-205; 

- 2nd Letter on Najran Martyrs, *I.Shahid, The Martyrs 
of Najran (1971), 43-64; 

- Book of the Himyarites, *A.Moberg (1924). 

(29)ELIAS: LTby *E. W.Brooks, CSCO Syr 7-8 (1907). 

(30) CYRUS of EDESSA: *W.Macomber, CSCO Syr 
155-6 (1974). 

(33) CHRONICLE of EDESSA: B.W.Cowper, Journal 
of Sacred Literature 5 (1865), 28-45; GTby *L.Hallier (1892); 
LT by *I Guidi, CSCO Syr 1-2 (1903). 


- Lives of Eastern Saints, *E.WBrooks, PO 17-19 (1923-5); 

- Ecclesiastical History, Part III, R.Payne Smith (1860); 


Guide to" Engl. Translations 

LT by *E.W.Brooks, CSCO Syr 105-6 (1935-6). 


- Memra on Crucifixion, *R. YEbied and L.R.Wickham, 
Journal of Theological Studies 26 (1975), 23-37. 

- Letter, *R.Y.Ebied, A.van Roey, L.Wickham, Peter of 
Callinicum: Anti-Tritheist Dossier (1981), 103-4. 

(36) PS.ZACHARIAS: F.J.Hamilton and E.W.Brooks 
(1899); LT of whole by *E.W.Brooks, CSCO 38-9, 41-2 


- Life: see 39, below; 

- FT by *F.Nau, PO 3 (1905), 101-15; 

- On man as microcosm, LT by *J.B.Chabot, Notices et 
extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliotheque Nationale 43 
(1965), 70-72. 


- Memra on Epiphany, *S.P.Brock, PdO 15 (1988/9), 169- 
96; and in Harp 2:3 (1989), 131-40; 

- Cave of Treasures, E.A.W.Budge (1927); 

- 3 homilies on Epiphany, FT by *A.Desreumaux, PO 38 

- 3 homilies on the Sinful Woman, FT by *F.Graffm, PO 
41 (1984); 

- Homily on the High Priest, FT by *F.Graffin, PO 41 

- Life of Ahudemmeh, FT by *F.Nau, PO 3 (1905), 7-51. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
PO 9, 23(1913, 1932). 


(42) SHUBHALMARAN: ET in preparation by D.Lane. 
(43) BAB AI the GREAT: 

- Liber de unione, and Against one qnoma. LT by 
*A.Vaschalde, CSCO 34-5 (1915); 

- Excerpt on christology, *L.Abramowski and 
A.E.Goodman, A Nestorian Collection of Christolo* ical 
Texts (1972), 123-5; 

- Commentary on Evagrius' Centuries. *W.Frankenbere 

- Canons (surviving only in Arabic translation), * A. Voobus, 
Syriac and Arabic Documents... Syrian Asceticism (1960) 

- Babai of Nisibis, Letter to Cyriacus, S.PBrock, The Syriac 
Fathers on Prayer, 138- 63. 

(44) MARTYRIUS/SAHDONA: FT by *A de Halleux 
CSCO Syr 86-87, 90-91, 110-13 (1960-65). 

(45) ISHO'YAHB II: FT by L.R.M.Sako (1983). 

- Plerophoria, and On Myron, GT by *J.Martikainen 

- Anaphora, GT by F.Fuchs (1926): 

- Dialogue with Emir, FT by *F.Nau, Journal asiatique 
11:5(1915), 225-79. 



Quid© to Engl. Translations 

- Life of (by Denha), FT by F.Nau, PO 3 (1905); 

- On Epiphany, * S.P.Brock, Oriens Christianus 66 (1982), 

- On spread of 'Nestorianism', FT in *J.B.Chabot, 
Chronique de Michel le Syrien Xl.ix (vol. II, 435-40). 

(48) GREGORY of CYPRUS: On Theoria, LT by 
*LHausherr (1937). 


- Memra on Alexander the Great, E.A.W.Budge (1889); 
GT by *G.Reinink, CSCO Syr 195-6 (1983); 

- Life of Febronia, S.P.Brock and S.A.Harvey, Holy 
Women of the Syrian Orient, 152-76. 

(51) GABRIEL OF QATAR: (part) G.Vavanikunnel, 
Homilies and Interpretation on the Holy Qurbana (1977), 87- 

(52) ABRAHAM bar LIPEH: LT by *R.H.Connolly, 
CSCO Syr 29, 32 (1913, 1915). 

(53) ANONYMOUS, Khuzistan Chronicle: LT by *I. 
Guidi, CSCO Syr 1-2 (1903); GT by T. Noldeke, 
Sitzungsberichte, Akad.Wiss. Wien (1893); ET by S.P.Brock in 

(54) ISHO'YAHB III: LT by R.Duval, CSCO Syr 11-12 



- Part II, ch.1-3, IT by *RBettiolo forthcoming; ch.1-2, 
S.P.Brock, Sobornost/ECR 19 (1997); ch.4-41, *S.P.Brock, 

CSCO Syr 224-5 (1995); 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

- Book of Grace (selections), [D.Miller], Ascetic Homilies 
of St Isaac the Syrian (1984), 397-426. 

(56) SHEM'ON D-TAYBUTHEH: (selections), 
*A.Mingana, Early Christian Mystics (1934): IT by P.Bettiolo 

(57) DADISHO': 

- Comm. on Abba Isaiah's Asceticon, FT by *R.Drasuet, 
CSCO Syr 144-5 (1972); 

- On Seven Weeks, etc., * A. Ming ana, Early Christian 

Mystics (1934). 

(58) JOHN bar PENKAYE: (Book 15) S.P.Brock. 
Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 9 (1987), 51-75 = 
Studies in Syriac Christianity (1992), ch.2. 

(59) ANONYMOUS, Apocalypse of Ps.Methodius: 
P.J.Alexander, The Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition (1985), 36- 
51; GT by *G.Reinink, CSCO Syr 220-21 (1993); ET of 
X.6 to end, S.P.Brock, in A.N.Palmer, The Seventh Century in 
the West- Syrian Chronicles (1993), 230-42. 


- Lives of Rabban bar Tdta and of Rabban Hormizd, 
*E.A.W.Budge (1902); 

- Life of Maximus the Confessor, *S.P.Brock, Analecta 
Bollandiana91 (1973), 299- 346 = Syriac Perspectives on Late 
Antiquity (1984), ch.12. 


- Hexaemeron, *J.B.Chabot, A.Vaschalde, CSCO Syr 44, 
48 (1928, 1932): 

- Scholia (select), G.Phillips (1864); 


Guide to Engl, Translations 

- On Myron, *S.P.Brock, Oriens Christianus 63 (1979), 20-36; 

- Canons, GT by C.Kayser (1886); ET (of some), 
*A.Voobus, The Synodicon in the West Syrian Tradition, I, 
CSCO Syr 161-2 (1975), 206-47; 

- Chronicle, E.W.Brooks, Zeitschrift der deutschen 
morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 53 (1899), 261-327, 54 (1900) 
10(M02; LT by *E. W.Brooks, CSCO 5-6 (1905); 

- Letters (see entry on Jacob in C.Moss, Catalogue [Title 
in Section VIII]). 

(62) GEORGE of the ARABS: 

- Hexaemeron, see (61); 

- Comm. on Liturgy, *R.H.Connolly and H.W.Codrington, 
Two Commentaries on the Jacobite Liturgy (1913), 11-23; 

- On Myron, Letter, GT by V.Ryssel (1891); 

- memra on Severus, *K.McVey, CSCO Syr 216-7 (1993). 

(63) ANONYMOUS, 'Diyarbekir Commentary': FT by 
*L.Van Rompay, CSCO Syr 205-6 (1986). 

(64) SERGIUS the STYLITE: *A.RHayman, CSCO Syr 

152-3 (1973). 

(65) ELIA: LT by *A.VanRoey, CSCO Syr 201-2 (1985). 

(66) JOHN SABA/ JOHN of DALYATHA: Letters, FT 
by *R.Beulay, PO 39 (1978). 


- Letter on Three Degrees, *G.01inder (1950); FT by 
*R.Graffin, PO 45 (1992); 

- Selections, *A.Mingana, Early Christian Mystics (1934); 

(68) ABRAHAM bar DASHANDAD: *A. Mingana, 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
Early Chrstian Mystics (1934). 

(69) ANONYMOUS, Zuqnin Chronicle (Ts.Dionysius'): 

- LT of vol.1 by *J.B.Chabot, CSCO Syr 43. 66 (1927, 
1949); FT of Vol.11 [= CSCO Syr 53, 1933] by R.Hespel, CSCO 
Syr 213 (1989); ET of Vol.1, 235-317 = 'Chronicle of Joshua 
the Stylite', see (25) above; ET of Vol. II, 2-145 , 
W.Witakowski(1996); FT of Vol.11, 145-376, FT by J.B.Chabot 
(1895); ET of Vol.11 (complete) by AHarrak, forthcoming. 

(70) THEODORE bar KONI: 

- FT by R.Hespel and R.Draguet, CSCO Syr 1 87-8 ( 1 98 1 - 
2) [Syriac text: A.Scher, CSCO Syr 19, 26 (1910, 1912]; FT 

(of different recension) by R.Hespel. CSCO , 193 197 



- LT of Letters 1-39, LT by *O.Braun, CSCO Syr 31 
(1915); Letter 40, FT by *H.P.J.Cheikho (1983); Letters 43, 
48, ET by S.P.Brock (forthcoming); FT by *H.Pognon, Une 
version syriaque des Aphorismes d'Hippocrate (1903); Letter 
46, GT by *O.Braun, Oriens Christianus 3 (1903), 300-19; 
To monks of BethMaron, FT by *R.Bidawid (1956) 91- 

- Dialogue with the Caliph Mahdi, ET by *A.Mingana 
(1928); FT by H.Putman, LEglise el F Islam sous Timothee 

- Canons, LT by *J.Labourt (1904), 50-86; GT by 
*E.Sachau, SyrischeRechtsbucher 2 (1908), 53-1 17. 



Guide to Engl. Translations 

- Select Questions on Pentateuch, *E.G.Clarke (1962); 

- Juridical decisions, GT by *E.Sachau, Syrische 
Rechtsbucher2(19()8), 119-77. 

(73) JOB of EDESSA: *A.Mingana (1935). 

(74) JOHN of DARA: Comm.on Liturgy, FT by *J.Sader, 
CSCO Syr 133 (1970). 

(75) ISHO'DAD of MERV 

- Comm. on Old Testament, FT by *C.van den Eynde, 
CSCO Syr 75 (1955) [Gen], 81 (1958) [Exod-Deut], 97 
(1963) [BeitMawtbe], 129 (1969) [Isaiah, XII Proph], 147 
(1972) [Jer, Ezek, Dan], 186 (1981) [Pss]. 

- Comm. on New Testament, *M.D. Gibson (1911-13). 

(76) NONNUS of NISIBIS: LT by *A.van Roey (1948). 

(77) ANTONY of TAGRIT: Book 5, *J.Watt, CSCO 
Syr 204 (1986). 

*R.H.Connolly, CSCO Syr 29, 32 (1913, 1915); ET of Book 
V.5 (on baptismal anointings) by S.P.Brock in Tuvaik: Studies 
in honour of Jacob Vellian (1995), 27-37. 

(79) THOMAS of MARGA: *E.A.W.Budge (1893). 

(80) ISHO'DNAH: FT by *J.B.Chabot (1891). 

*A.Levene, Early Syrian Fathers on Genesis (195 1). 

(82) MOSHE bar KEPHA 

- Comm. on Hexaemeron, GT by L.Schlimme (1977); 

- On Paradise, LTm Patrologia Graeca lll,cols.479-608; 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

- Introduction to Psalter, GT by *G.Diettrich, Eine 
jakobitische Einleiting..(1901 ); FT by J-M. Voste, Revue 
biblique 38 (1929), 214-28; 

- Comm. on John, GT by ^L.Schlimme (1978-81); 

- Comm. on Romans, GT by *J.Reller (1994); 

- On Soul, GT by O.Braun (1891); 


Comm. on Liturgy, *R.H.Connolly and H.W.Codrington, 
Commentaries.. (1913), 24-90; 

- Comm. on Baptism, R.A.Aytoun, repr. in J. Vellian (ed). 
Studies on Syrian Baptismal Rites (1973), 7-15; 

- Comm. on Myron, GT by *W.Slrothmann (1973). 

- Homilies (see Moss, Catalogue... [title in VHIg]). 

(83) ELIJAH of ANBAR: Memre I-III, GT by *AJuekel. 
CSCO Syr 227 (1996). 

(84) ANONYMOUS, Causa Causarum: GT by C.Kayser 


- Chronicle, LT by *E. W.Brooks, CSCO Syr 23-4 (1910); 
FTbyL-J.Delaporte (1910). 


- Comm. on Liturgy, LT by H.Labourt, CSCO Syr 14 

- Comm. on Old Testament (see Moss, Catalogue...). 

- Comm. on New Testament, LT by *LSedlacek, J- 
B.Chabot, CSCO 16 (1906) [Gospels, Li], 20 (1910) [Apoc, 
Acts, Catholic Epistles], 40 (1922) [Gospels, I.ii]; 


Guide to Engl. Translations 

*A.Vaschalde. CSCO 40 (1933) [Gospels, Il.i], 61 (1940) 

[Gospels. ILii]; 

- AgainstMelkitcs, Against Armenians, *AJVfingana(1927, 1931); 

- Canons, LT by H.Denzinger, Ritus Orientalium (1863), 
I, 493-. 

(89) MICHAEL the SYRIAN: FT by *J-B.Chabot (1899- 
24, repr.1963). 

(91) SOLOMON of BOSRA: *E.A.W.Budge (1886). 

(93) ANONYMOUS, Chronicle, LT of vol.1 by *J- 
B.Chabot, CSCO Syr 56 (1937) [Syriac in CSCO Syr 36 
(1920)]; FT of vol.11 by A.Abouna and J-M.Fiey, CSCO Syr 154 
(1974) [Syriac in CSCO Syr 37 (1916)]. 


- Candelabra, I, FT by *J.Bakos, PO 22; II, FT by 
*J.Bakos. PO 24; III, FT by *F.Graffin, PO 27; IV, FT by 
♦J.Khoury. PO 31: V, GT by *R.Kohlhaas (1959); VI, FT by 
*A.Torbey, PO 30; VII, FT by *M.Albert, PO 30; VIII, FT by 
*J.Bakos (1948); IX, FT by *P-H.Poirier, PO 43; X, FT 
by *E.Zigmund, PO 35; XI, FT by *N.Sed, PO 41; XII, 
FT by *N.Sed, PO 40; 

- Zalge, X, FT by *N.Sed, PO 41; 

- 'Osar Raze, Gen - 2 Sam, *M.Sprengling and 
W.C.Graham (1931); Gospels, *W.E.Carr (1925); 

- Nomocanon, LT by A.Mai, Scriptorum Veterum Nova 
Collectio 10:2 (1838), 1-268; 


- Book of the Dove, *AJ.Wensink (1919); 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

- Swad Sofiya, FT by *H.FJanssens (1937); 

- Ecclesiastical History, LT by J.Abbeloos and T J Lamy 

- Chronicle, *E.A.W.Budge (1932); 

- Semhe, GT by *A.Moberg (1907-13); 

- Sullaqa hawnanaya, FT by *F.Nau (1899-1900); 

- Laughable Stories, *E.A.W.Budge (1897). 
(96) 'ABDISHO' 

- Nomocanon, LT by A.Mai, Scriptorum Veterum Nova 
Collectio 10:1 (1838), 1-331; 

- Ordo Iudiciorum Ecclesiasticorum, LT by J-M Voste 

- Pearl, P.Badger, The Nestorians and their Rituals, II 
(1852), 380-422; 

- Catalogue of Syriac writers, P.Badger. The Nestorians 
II, 361-79. 

(99) ANONYMOUS, History of Rabban Sauma and 
Yahballahalll: E.A.W.Budge, The Monks of Kublai Khan 
(1928); FTbyJ.B.Chabot(1895). 


- Comm. on Baptismal liturgy, *P.B.Kadicheeni (1980). 


(the sequence follows the chronological order given in Section V) 

- Old Syriac Gospels: *F.C.Burkitt (1904). 

- Eusebius, Palestinian Martyrs: *W.Curelon (1861). 


Guide to Engl. Translations 

-Didascalia: R.H.Connolly (1929); *A.Voobus, CSCO 
Syr 175-6, 179-80 (1979). 

- Basil, Hexaemeron: *R.WThomson, CSCO Syr 222-3 (1995). 

- Theodore of Mopsuestia, Comm. on John: LT by *I- 
M.Voste, CSCO Syr 62-3 (1940). 

- Theodore of Mopsuestia, Catechetical Homilies: 
*A.Mingana, Woodbrooke Studies 5-6 (1932-3); FT by 
*R.Tonneau (1949), and by M.Debie and others (1996); GT by 
RBruns (1995). 

- Arisieides, Apology: *J.R.Harris (1891). 

- Epiphanius, On Weights and Measures: J.E.Dean (1935). 

- Athanasius, Life of Antony: *E. AW.Budge, Paradise 
of the Fathers (1904); FT by *R.Draguet CSCO 183-4(1980). 

- Athanasius, various works: *R. W.Thomson, CSCO Syr 
114-5, 118-9, 141-2, 167-8 (1965-77). 

- Macarius, Homilies: GT by *W.Strothmann (1981). 

- Ignatius of Antioch: *W.Cureton (1849). 

- Nilus: IT by *P.Bettiolo (1983). 

- Palladius, Lausiac History: 

- HistoriaMonachorum: *E.A.W.Budge, Paradise of the 
Fathers (1904). 

- Apophthegmata/Sayings of the Fathers: 

- Ammonius, Letters: D.J.Chitty (1979). 

- Abba Isaiah, Asceticon: FT by *R.Draguet, CSCO Syr 
120-3 (1968). 

- Severus, Correspondence with Sergius: IRTorrance (1 988). 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

- Life of Peter the Iberian: GT by *R.Raabe (1895). 

- Zacharias, Life of Severus: FT by *M A Kueener PO 2 

- Nestorius, Bazaar of Heracleides: G.R.Driver and 
L.Hodgson (1925); FT by F.Nau (1910). 

- Kalilah and Dimnah (earlier version) : GT by *F.Schultess ( 1 9 1 1 ). 

- Ps.Callisthenes, Alexander: *E.A.W.Budge (1889). 

- Cyril of Alexandria, Homilies on Luke: R. Payne Smith ( 1 869). 

- Severus, Hymns: *E. W.Brooks, PO 6-7 (1910-11). 

- Athanasius, Festal Letters: *W.Cureton ( 1 848). 

- Severus, Select Letters: *E. W.Brooks (1902-4). and PO 

- Severus, Homilies (tr. Jacob of Edessa): FT by *M Briere 
F.Graffin, PO 4,8,12, 16,20, 22, 23, 25,29, 36-38 (1906-77). ' 

-Kalilah and Dimnah Gaterversion): LG.N.Keith-Falconer(1885). 

- Sindbad: H.Gollancz, in Transactions of the Folklore 
Society 8 (1897), 99-130; FT by F.Macler (1903). 




For the most part the following is largely restricted to works 
in English. 

(a) Introductions to Syrlac literature 

An initial orientation is given by S.P.Brock, 'An 
introduction to Syriac Studies', in J.H. Eaton (ed.), Horizons in 
Semitic Studies (Birmingham/Sheffield 1980), 1-33; much 
more detailed introductory guidance can be found in the chapters 
on Syriac literature in two very useful handbooks: (1) by 
M.Albert in A.Guillaumont and others, Christianismes orientaux 
(Paris 1993), 297-372; and (2) by P.Bettiolo, in A.Quacqarelli 
(ed), Complement! interdisciplinari di Patrologia (Rome 1989), 
503-603. Introductory booklets covering various aspects of 
Syriac studies are available as part of SEERI's Correspondence 
Course [1990]. 

The standard histories of Syriac literature in western 
languages are (in chronological order): 

- J.S.Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis (3 vols, Rome 1719- 
28; repr. Hildesheim 1975). This monumental work (by a 
Maronite scholar) provided the foundation for all subsequent 
histories of Syriac literature, and although much is now out of 
date, it remains the sole source for a great deal of basic 

- W.Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature (London 
1 894). Wright had an extensive knowledge of Syriac literature 
as a result of his having catalogued the large collection of Syriac 
manuscripts in the British Museum, and this still remains a useful 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
book for the more advanced student of the subject; it is not 
suitable, however, as an introductory work. 

- R.Duval, La litterature syriaque (3rd ed. Paris 1907); 
this remains the best general introduction. 

- De Lacy O'Leary, The Syriac Church and Fathers 
(London 1909). A summary treatment, and rather outdated. 

- A.Baumstark, Die christlichen Literaturen des Ostens, I 
(Leipzig 1911). The section on Syriac literature is a helpful general 
orientation, and much more readable than the following work. 

- A.Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur (Bonn 
1922). This remains the standard work, indispensible for all 
serious study of the subject; it has by far the most detailed 
coverage (including details of manuscripts), but the presentation 
and cramped German style makes for difficult reading (indeed, 
it is primarily a work for reference, rather than continuous 

- J.B.Chabot, La litterature syriaque (Paris 1934). Much 
shorter than Duval, but a useful introductory work by a scholar 
who had an exceptionally wide knowledge of Syriac literature. 

- A.Baumstark and A.Rucker, in Handbuch der 
Orientalistik III, Semitistik (Leiden 1954), 169-204. Useful, but 
inevitably rather selective. 

- I. Ortiz de Urbina, Patrologia Syriaca (2nd ed. Rome 
1965). This Latin handbook is an extremely useful work of 
reference; it is clearly set out and has succinct (but now often 
outdated) bibliographies. A French translation (by R.Lavenant), 
bringing it up to date, has been promised. 

- R.Macuch, Geschichte der spat- und neusyrischen 
Literatur (Berlin 1976). This covers literature in both Classical 


Select Bibliography 

and Modern Syriac up to the present day; coverage of Classical 
Syriac is from c.l4th century onwards, the period neglected in 
other histories of Syriac literature. The book is in fact based on 
three important histories of Syriac literature by scholars from Syria 
(E.Barsaum, 2nd edn.1956), Iraq (A.Abouna, 1970) and Iran 
(P.Sarmas. 1969-70). 

A great deal of information on particular authors can be 
found in the three volumes of A.Voobus' History of Asceticism 
in the Syrian Orient (CSCOSubs.14, 17, 81 (1958, 1960, 1988). 

(b) Monographs on some individual Syriac 
authors (In alphabetical order) 

BARDAISAN: HJ.W.Drijvers, Bardaisan of Edessa (Assen 

EARLY WRITERS: R.Murray, Symbols of Church and 
Kingdom: a study in early Syriac tradition (Cambridge 1975); 
S J.Beggiani, Early Syriac Theology (Lanham 1979). 

EPHREM: S.RBrock, The Luminous Eye: the Spiritual 
"World Vision of St Ephrem (Rome 1985; Kalamazoo 1992); 
T.Bou Mansour, La pensee symbolique de saint Ephrem 
(Kaslik 1988). 

JACOB of SERUGH: T.Bou Mansour, La theologie de 
Jacques de Saroug, I (Kaslik 1993). 

L'enseignement spirituel de Jean de Dalyatha (Paris 1990). 
PHILOXENUS: A. de Halleux, Philoxene de Mabboug. Sa 
vie, ses ecrits, sa theologie (Louvain 1963). 

TIMOTHY I: R.Bidawid, Les Lettres du patriarche 
nestorien Timothee I (Studi e Testi 187, 1956). 


(c) Specific topics 

Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 

(1) Early History of Syriac Churches 

The following are the main works available in English (in 
chronological order) 

W.Wigram, An Introduction to the History of the Assyrian 
Church (London 1910). Covers up till the end of the Sasanian 
period; this remains a very helpful introduction. 

W.A.Wigram, The Separation of the Monophysites 
(London 1923). A very detailed account, based on Syriac 
sources, concerning the Syrian Orthodox Church in the sixth 

W.H.C.Frend, The Rise of the Monophysite Movement 
(Cambridge 1972). Developments in Church History in the 
Eastern Roman Empire from the mid 5th century to the Arab 
invasions; primarily based on Greek sources. 

W.G.Young, Patriarch, Shah and Caliph (Rawalpindi 
1974). A very helpful account of the history of the Church of 
the East up to and including the early Abbasid period. 

J.Spencer Trimingham, Christianity among the Arabs in 
Pre-Islamic Times (London 1979). This frequently touches 
on Syriac Church history. 

W.S.McCullough, A Short History of Syriac Christianity 
to the Rise of Islam (Chico 1982). Special attention is paid to 
the Church in the Persian Empire. 

S.H.Moffett, A History of Christianity in Asia, I, to 1500 
(San Francisco 1992). Gives extensive coverage to the Syriac 

J.C.England, The Hidden History of Christianity in Asia 


Select Bibliography 

before 1500 (Delhi/Hong Kong 1996. A helpful introduction 

for the general reader. 

In French and German, the following works are 

J.Labourt, Le christianisme dans r empire perse (Paris 1904) 
This remains the fullest account. 

P.Kawerau, Die jakobitische Kirche im Zeitalter der 
synschen Renaissance (Berlin 1960). Deals with 12th-13th 

W.Hage, Die syrisch-jakobitische Kirche in fruhislamischen 
Zeit (Wiesbaden 1966). 

J-M.Fiey, Jalons pour une histoire de l'eglise en Iraq 
(CSCO Subs.36; 1970). Covers the Sasanian period and 
supplements Labourt. 

, Chretiens syriaques sous les Mongols (CSCO Subs.44. 


" , Chretiens syriaques sous les Abbasides (CSCO Subs 
59, 1980). 

(2) Topography 

E.Honigmann, Eveques et eveches monophysites au Vie 
siecle (CSCO Subs.2, 1951). 

/rpm " ' Le couvent de Barsauma et le patriarcat Jacobite 
(CSCO Subs.7, 1954), 

J.B.Segal, Edessa, the Blessed City (Oxford 1971). 
J-M.Fiey, Assyrie chretienne I-III (Beirut 1965-8). 
" , Nisibe,metropolesyriaqueorientale(CSCOSubs.54, 1977). 
" , Communautes syriaques en Iran et Iraq des origines 

Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
a 1552 (London 1979). 

(3) Spirituality 

S. Abouzayd, Ihidayuta: a study of the life of singleness in 
the Syrian Orient (Oxford, 1993). 

S.Beggiani, Early Syriac Theology (Lanham 1983). 

" , Introduction to Eastern Christian Spirituality: the 
Syriac Tradition (Toronto/London 199 1). 

R.Beulay, La lumiere sans forme. Introduction a 1' etude 
de la mystique chretienne syro-orientale (Chevetogne 1987). 

G.Blum, Mysticism in the Syriac Tradition (SEERI 
Correspondence Course, 7). 

S.P.Brock, The Holy Spirit in the Syrian Baptismal 
Tradition (Syrian Churches Series 9, 1979). 

" , The Syrian Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life 
(Kalamazoo 1987). Contains a collection of translations, with 
brief introductions . 

, Studies in Syriac Spirituality (Syrian Churches Series 
13, 1988). Collection of articles reprinted mainly from Sobornost/ 

Eastern Churches Review. 

" , Spirituality in the Syriac Tradition (Moran Etho Series, 
2; 1989). 

S.Griffith, 'Asceticism in the Church of Syria', in 
V.L.Wimbush and R.Valentasis (eds), Asceticism (1995), 220-48. 

A. Guillaumont, Aux origines du monachisme Chretien 
(Spiritualite Orientale 30, 1979). 

" and LH.Dalmais, v Syriaque (spiritualite) * in Dictionnaire 
de Spiritualite 14 (1990), 1429- 50. 


Select Bibliography \ 

A.Thottakara (ed.), East Syrian Spirituality (Bangalore 

AVoobus, History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient, I- 
III (see under (a)). 

(4) Hagiography 

The standard reference work is RPeeters, Bibliotheca 
HagiographicaOrientalis(Bruxelles 1914); an updated revision 
of the Syriac entries in this is in preperation by C.Detienne, to be 
published under the title Bibliotheca Hagiographica Syriaca. 
Another work, of a less technical nature, is also to appear shortly: 
IM.Fiey, Les saints syriaques (Princeton). Entries on several 
Syriac saints can be found in Bibliotheca Sanctorum I-XIH (Rome 

A number of English translations of Lives of Syriac saints 
are available, notably: 

S.P.Brock and S.A.Harvey, Holy Women of the Syrian 
Orient (Berkeley 1987). 

E.W.Brooks, John of Ephesus, Lives of the Eastern Saints 
PO 17-19 (1923-4). 

E.A.W.Budge, The Histories of Rabban Hormizd and 
Rabban Bar Tdta (London 1902). 

F.C.Burkitt, Euphemia and the Goth (London 1913). 

R.Doran, The Lives of Symeon Stylites (Kalamazoo 1992). 

(d) Series of texts; main relevant periodicals and 

Series of texts and monograph series 

Although they never formed a specific series, mention 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
should be made at the outset of the numerous volumes of Syriac 
texts published (at Leipzig, between 1888 and 1910) by the 
Chaldean priest, Father Paul Bedjan (1838-1920). 

- Patrologia Syriaca (PS); only three volumes ever 
appeared (1897, 1907, 1927). The vocalized serto texts are 
accompanied by a Latin translation, and a full index of words is 
provided for each text. 

- Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium (CSCO), 
Scriptores Syri (Paris/Louvain/Leuven); the series began in 1903, 
and by now well over 200 volumes of Syriac texts and translations 
have appeared. The texts are ail printed in estrangelo; the 
translations are in separate volumes; earlier ones were in Latin, 
but more recent ones are in the main modern European languages. 

- Patrologia Orientalis (PO). This series also began in 1903, 
and many fascicles are devoted to Syriac texts . The script used 
is serto, and the text is accompanied on the same page by a 
translation (Latin in earlier volumes, mainly French in later 

- Woodbrooke Studies, I- VII (1927-1934). These are 
publications by A.Mingana of Syriac (and a few Arabic) texts 
found in manuscripts in the Mingana Collection, Selly Oak 
Colleges, Birmingham, England. English translations are always 

- Gottinger Orientforschungen, Reihe Syriaca (GOFS). 
Many volumes in this series, begun 1971, are publications of 
Syriac texts, most of which are accompanied by a German 

- Barhebraeus Verlag (Monastery of StEphrem, Holland). 
A large number of Syriac texts, literary as well as liturgical, have 
been published by the Syrian Orthodox monastery of St Ephrem 


Select Bibliography 

in Glane/Losser, in eastern Holland. 

- Moran Etho series (Kottayam; 1988-). These are 
primarily monographs, though two volumes contain editions of text. 

Among other monograph series which sometimes have 
contents of Syriac concern are: Orientalia Christiana Analecta 
(Rome); Oriental Institute of Religious Studies India (Kottayam); 

Very few periodicals are specifically devoted to Syriac 
studies, but several frequently have articles of relevance. Those 
which are primarily, or largely, concerned with Syriac studies are: 

-L' Orient Syrien (Paris; 12 vols., 1956-67). Many useful 
articles, some introductory, some more specialized, are to be 
found in these volumes, edited by Mgr G.Khouri-Sarkis. An 
index to the complete series is to be found in the Memorial to 
G.Khoun-Sarkis (Louvain, 1969). 

- Melto (Kaslik; 1-5; 1965-9) and Parole de 1' Orient 
(Kaslik;!-; 1970 -). Initially designed as a successor to V Orient 
Syrien, Melto and its successor Parole de 1' Orient include many 
important publications of Syriac texts, as well as studies. More 
recent volumes also cover Christian Arabic studies. An index to 
vols 1- is to be found in 

- Journal (Bulletin) of the Syriac Section (Corporation) of 
the Iraqi Academy (Baghdad; 1-1975-); the majority of articles 

are in Arabic. 

- The Harp: A Review of Syriac and Oriental Studies 
(Kottayam; 1- ; 1987-). Papers from the series of international Syriac 
conferences organised by SEERI are also published in The Harp. 

Periodicals whose coverage is much wider, but which often 
include articles relevant to Syriac literature, are: Analecta 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
Bollandiana (1882- ), dealing with hagiography; Le Museon 
(1882- ) with index for 1882-1931 in vol.44; index for 1932- 
1973 by G.Lafontaine (1975); Revue de 1' Orient Chretien 
(1896-1946), with indexes at the end of every ten volumes; 
Oriens Christianus (1901-), with index for 1901-1986 by 
H.Kaufhold (1989); Orientalia Christiana Periodica (1935- ), 
with index for 1960-1984 in vol.52 (1986); Aram (1989-). 


The only encyclopaedia devoted solely to Syriac studies is 
in Arabic (with Syriac title Hudra d-seprayuta suryayta), of which 
only the first volume, covering part of alif, has appeared (Baghdad 
1990); much of relevance can be found in the Encyclopedie 
Maronite, of which again only one volume (covering A) has so 
far appeared (Kaslik 1992). The following more general 
encyclopedias and dictionaries often have good articles on Syriac 
authors: in English, Encyclopedia of the Early Church, in two 
volumes (Cambridge 1992); E.A.Livingstone, Oxford Dictionary 
of the Christian Church, in a single volume (3rd edn, 1997); 
Dictionary of Eastern Christianity (Oxford, forthcoming); 
Encyclopaedia Iranica (6 volumes to date, A-D; in French, 
Dictionnaire de Spiritualite (1932-1995, 17 volumes), 
Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Geographie Ecclesiastique (1912- 
, 26 volumes to date, reaching only the letter I !); and in German: 
Kleines Worterbuch des christlichen Orients (1975), with a French 
translation (Turnhout 1991); Lexikon fur Theologie und Kirche 
(2nd edn. 1993- ); 5 volumes to date, reaching K (Syriac authors 
are rather well represented); Marienlexikon (1988-1994), in 6 
volumes; Theologische Realenzyklopadie (1976- ); 26 volumes 
to date, reaching P. 


Select Bibliography 

(e) Collected volumes 

Since 1972 there have been Syriac Conferences every four 
years; the proceedings have been published in Orientalia 
Christiana Analecta (OCA) as follows: 

[I] Symposium Syriacum 1972 (ed. I. Ortiz deUrbina; 
OCA 197, 1974); 

II Symposium Syriacum 1976 (ed. F.Graff in and 
A.Guillaumont; OCA 205, 1978); 

IE Symposium Syriacum 1980 (edRLavenant; OCA22 1,1983); 

IV Symposium Syriacum 1984 (ed. HJ.W.Drijvers, 
R.Lavenant and others; OCA 229 (1987); 

V Symposium Syriacum 1988 (ed. R. Lavenant; OCA 236, 


VI Symposium Syriacum 1992 (ed. R.Lavenant; OCA 247, 


The following contain contributions wholly or largely 
concerned with Syriac studies (in chronological order): 

Gottinger Arbeitkreis fur syrische Kirchengeschichte (eds), 
Paul de Lagarde und die syrische Kirchengeschichte (Gottingen 

A.Dietrich (ed), Synkretismus im syrisch-persischen 
Kulturgebiet (Gottingen 1975). 

N.Garsoian, R.Thomson, T.Mathews (eds), East of 
Byzantium: Syria and Armenia in the Formative Period 

(Washington DC 1982). 

M.Schmidt (ed.), Typus, Symbol, Allegorie be den 
ostlichen Vatem und ihren Parallelen im Mittelalter (Regensburg 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
Collected articles, Festschriften and Memorial volumes (in 
alphabetical order) 

(J.Assfalg), Lingua Restituta Orientalis: Festgabe fur 

J.Assfalg (ed. R.Schulz and M.Gorg; Wiesbaden 1990). 

SP.Brock, Syriac Perspectives on Late Antiquity (London 1984); 

" , Studies in Syriac Christianity (Aldershot 1992) 

( " ), A Festschrift for Sebastian Brock (ed.S. Abouzayd) 
= Aram 5 (1993). 

Ade Halleux, Patrologie et ecumenisme. Recueil d' etudes 

HJ.W.Drijvers, East of Antioch (London 1984). 

" , History and Religion in Late Antique Syria (Aldershot 

J-M.Fiey, Communautes syriaques en Iran et Iraq des 
origines a 1552 (London 1979). 

( " ), In Memoriam Jean Maurice Fiey o.p. 1914-1995 = 
Annales du Departement des Lettres Arabes, Universite Saint 
Joseph, 6-B (1991-2 [1996]). 

(F.Graffin), Melanges offerts an R.P.Francois Graffin = 
Parole de V Orient 6/7 (1978). 

(A.Guillaumont), Melanges Antoine Guillaumont: 
Contributions a 1' etude des christianismes orientaux (Geneva 1988). 

(W.Hage), Syrische Christentum weltweit. Studien zur 
syrischen Kirchengeschichte. Festschrift W.Hage (ed. 
M.Tamcke, W.Schwaigert,E.Schlarb; Minister 1995). 

(G. Khouri-Sarkis), Memorial Mgr G.Khouri-Sarkis (ed. 
F.Graffin; Louvain 1969). 


Select Bibliography 

(A. Van Roey), After Chalcedon: Studies in Theology and 
Church History (ed.C.Laga, J.A.Munitiz, L. Van Rompay; 
Orientalia Lovaniensa Analecta 1 8, 1985). 

(A.Voobus), A Tribute to Arthur Voobus (ed. R Fischer- 
Chicago 1977). 

(W.Strothmann), Erkenntnisse und Meinungen II (ed. 
G.Wiessner; GOFS 17, 1978). 

(f) History of Syrioc studies 

An overview of Syriac studies in Europe is given by 
S.P.Brock, 'The development of Syriac studies', in K.Cathcart 
(ed.), The Edward Hincks Bicentenary Lectures (Dublin 1994), 
94- 1 1 3. For surveys of Syriac studies in recent decades, see 
S.P.Brock, 'Syriac studies in the last three decades: some 
reflections', VI Symposium Syriacum (OCA 247, 1994), 13- 
29, and A. de Halleux, 'Vingt ans d'etude critique des Eglises 
syriaques', in R.Taft (ed.), The Christian East: its Institutions 
and Thought (OCA 251, 1996), 145-79. 

(g) Bibliography 

Almost complete coverage of western publications on 
Syriac literature can be found in two books: (1) for publications 
of texts and studies up to c.1960: C.Moss, Catalogue of Syriac 
Books and Related Literature in the British Museum (London 
1962); this is arranged alphabetically by author (ancient and 
modern); and (2) for publications for the period 1960-1990, 
S.P.Brock, Syriac Studies: a Classified Bibliography (1960-1990) 
(Kaslik 1996); this is arranged alphabetically by Syriac author 
and subject, with an index of names of modern authors. (The 
latter work was originally published in four parts, in Parole de 
r Orient 4 (1973) [for 1960-70], 10 (1980/1) [for 1971-80], 14 


Brief outline of Syr Lit 
TV^ 198W985 ]' and 17 (1992) [lor 1986-90])' A 
de ro r nenI)° graPhy ' t0 ^ 199W995 * forthcol ™g (in Parole 
(h) Syriac manuscript collections 

An invaluable guide to Syriac manuscript collections is 
provided by ADesreumaux and F.Briquel-Chatonnet, Repertoire 
des bibbotheques etdes catalogues de manuscrtts syriaques (Pans 
991). For illustrated manuscripts there is a standard work by 
J.Leroy, Les manuscrits syriaques apeintures (2 vols, Pais, 1964) 
Almost all surviving Syriac manuscripts which are older 
than about the 1 1th century derive ultimately from the Syrian 
monastery in the Nitrtan Desert, m Egypt, where they were 
collected by the early tenth-century abbot, Moses of Nisibis- a 
few of these manuscripts still remain in the monastery (now Coptic 
Orthodox) the majority having been acquired by either the 
Vatican Library m the 18th century, or the British Museum in 
the 19th century. (TTre oldest dated Syriac manuscript was written 
m Edessa in November AD 41 1). For Syriac manuscripts m 
India see J.PM.van der Ploeg, The Christians of St Thomas in 
South India and their Syriac Manuscripts (Bangalore 1983). 

(i) Grammars and Dictionaries 

Introductory Grammars 

Several are available in English, notably: 

T.H.Robinson, Paradigms and Exercises in Syriac 
Grammar (4th edn, Oxford 1968); this covers the basic 

grammar reasonably well, but the exercises are very dull Serto 
script is used. 

J.Healey, First Studies in Syriac (Sheffield 1980)- this 
otherwise helpful introduction (with good exercises) rather 


Select Bibliography 

gives out when it comes to the weak verbs. There is a 
selection of annotated texts at the end. The serto Syriac text is 

T.Muraoka, Classical Syriac for Hebraists (Wiesbaden 
1987). This will be especially useful for those who come to 
Syriac with some knowledge of Hebrew. It contains exercises 
and uses the serto script. A revised edition is to appear shortly. 

W.M.Thackston, Introduction to Syriac: An elementary 
grammar with readings in Syriac (Harvard University, Dept. of 
Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, 1992). This excellent 
work has not been published, but xerox copies can be obtained 
from he relevant Department at Harvard University. The Syriac 
is unvocalized, but transcriptions are given as well. 

In other languages, mention might be made of A.Ungnad, 
SyrischeGrammatik (Munich 1913; reprinted Hildesheim 1992); 
L.Palacios, Grammatica Syriaca (Rome 1954); and J~B.Frey, 
Petite grammaire syriaque (Fribourg 1984). Many introductions 
have been produced within the Syriac Churches for the purpose 
of teaching children (and others) Syriac as a liturgical and/or as 
a spoken language, e.g. Abrohom Nouro, Suloko, I (St Ephrem 
Monastery, Holland, 1989); A.El-Khoury, Companion (Beirut 

Reference Grammars 

The standard reference grammars are: 

R.Duval, Traite de grammaire syriaque (Paris 1881). 

Th.Noldeke (tr. J.A.Crichton) Compendious Syriac 
Grammar (London 1904); a reprint (Darmstadt 1966) of the 
German second edition (1898) contains some supplements, and 
contains an index of passages quoted. 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit, 
Two useful grammars of an intermediary size are: 

C.Brockelmann, Syrische Grammatik (Leipzig 1899, with 
_ many subsequent editions); this contains a good selection 

of texts, for which a separate Syriac-English glossary was 

provided by M.H.Goshen-Gottstein (Wiesbaden 1970). 

L.Costaz, Grammaire syriaque (2nd edn., Beirut 1964). 


The two most practical dictionaries for ordinary use are: 

J.Payne Smith (Mrs Margoliouth), A Compendious Syriac 
Dictionary (Oxford 1903, with many reprints). This is 

arranged alphabetically, rather than by Syriac (trilitteral) 
root, and so is much more convenient for the less experienced 
reader of Syriac. It is especially helpful for phrases and 

L.Costaz, Dictionnaire syro-francais-arabe-anglais (Beirut 
1963, repr. 1986). This handy Syriac-French- Arabic- 

English dictionary is arranged by root and covers all but the most- 
specialized vocabulary. 

A Concise Syriac-English, English-Syriac Dictionary, 
compiled by G.Kiraz and S.P.Brock, is in the course of 
preparation; the arrangement will be alphabetic. 

None of the above give any references to passages in Syriac 
writers (sometimes a matter of importance and interest); for 
these one needs to consult two more extensive dictionaries: 

C.Brockelmann, Lexicon Syriacum (2nd edn., Halle 1928). 
Syriac -Latin, arranged by root. This only gives a small 

number of phrases and idioms, but is especially good for 
references to rarer words. The first edition (1895) has a Latin- 
Syriac index, but in the second edition page numbers only are 


Select Bibliography 

given for the Syriac, and so one has to look up the entry each 

R.Payne Smith, Thesaurus Syriacus, 2 volumes (Oxford 
1879, 1901). Syriac-Latin, arranged by root. This 
magnificent work (and exceptionally fine piece of printing) gives 
ample quotations of phrases and idioms (many of which are taken 
over in his daughter's Compendious Syriac Dictionary, but 
without the references). 

A Supplement to the Thesaurus of R.Payne Smith was 
published by J.Payne Smith (Oxford, 1927), where the entries 
(Syriac-English) are arranged alphabetically, rather than by root. 
This is based on texts published subsequent to the Thesaurus. 
In view of the many further new texts that have been published 
since the date of these dictionaries, a further supplement is very 
much a desideratum, but it would be a formidable task to 
undertake. There is also a valuable Syriac- Syriac dictionary by 
T. Audo, Dictionnaire de la langue chaldeenne (Mosul 1 897, repr. 
StEphrem Monastery 1985). 


(Numbers refer to listing in sub-sections A-D; an asterisk * 
indicates that an excerpt is translated in Section VII) 

Abdisho'barBrika 96* 

Abraham bar Lipeh 52 

Abraham of Nathpar 38 

Abraham b ar Dashandad 6 8 

Afram, Gabriel F 

Afaikar 10* 

Ahudemmeh 37* 

Aksenoyo (Philoxenos) 22* 

Alexander the Great, verse homily on 49 

Anonymous chronicles 25*,33,36*,53,69*, 93* 

Anonymous commentaries 63, 81 

Anonymous literature 5th cent. 17*, 18*; 6th cent 39*; 7th 
cent. 49, 53, 59* 

Anton of Tagrit 77* 

Aphrahat 11* 

Babai of Nisibis (see 43) 

Babai the Great 43* 

Balai 15 

Bar 'Ebroy o/Bar Hebraeus 95 * 

Bardaisan 4* 

Barhabdbeshabba'Arbaya 40 

B arhadbeshabba of Halwan 4 1 

Barsaum, Ephrem F 

Basil Ishaq Gobeyr E 

Basileios Shem'un of Tur 'Abdin E 

Behnam, Paulos F 

Book of Steps 13* 

Causa Cans arum 84* 

Cave of Treasures 39* 

Cyrillona 14 


Index of Authors 

Cyrus of Edessa 31* 

Dadisho' 57* 

Daniel of Salah 30* 

David the Phoenician E 

'Diyarbekir Commentary' 63 

Dionysius bar Salibi 87* 

Dioscorus of Gozarto 98 

Dolabani, Philoxenus Yuhanon F 

Elia 65 

Elias 29 

Elijah of Anbar 83* 

Elijah III Abu Halim 88 

Elijah of Nisibis 86 

Elyas, GhattaMaqdasi F 

Emmanuel bar Shahhare 85 

Ephrem 12* 

Fa'yeq, Na'um F 

Gabriel, Paulos F 

Gabriel of Qatar 51 

George (pseudo-) of Arbela 78* 

George bishop of the Arabs 62* 

Giwargis Warda 92 

Gregory of Cyprus 48 

Hagiography 18*, 29, 34*, 39, 44*, 49, 60, 80*, 89* 

lohannanbarZo'bi 90 

lohannan - see John 

Isaac of Antioch 23* 

Isaac of Nineveh 55* 

Isaiah of Beth Sbirina E 

Ishaq Sbadnaya E 

Isho'barnun 72* 

Isho'dad ofMerv 75* 

Isho'dnah 80* 

Isho'yahbll 45 


Brief outline of Syr. Lit. 
Isho'yahbUI 54* 
Jacob Severus bar Shakko 94* 
Jacob of Seragh 20* 
Jacob of Edessa 61* 
Job of Edessa 73* 
Johnof theSedre 46 
John of Ephesus 34* 
John Saba 66* 

John the Solitary (John of Apaniea) 16* 
John bar Penkaye 58 
John of Daly atha 66* 
JohnofDara 74* 
Joseph II E 
Joseph Hazzaya 67* 
'Joshua the Stylite', Chronicle 25* 
Kliamis bar Qardahe 97 
Khuzistan Chronicle 53 
Liber Graduum 13* 
Mara, Letter of 9 
Martyrius/Sahdona 44* 
MarathaofTagrit 47 
Mas'ud E 

Melito the Philosopher 7 
Menander, Sentences of 8 
Methodius, pseudo- (Apocalypse of) 59* 
Michael the Great 89* 
Moshe bar Kepha 82* 
Narsai 19* 
Nonnus of Nisibis 76 
Nuh E 

Peter of Kallinikos 35 
Philoxenos 22* 

Philoxenos Yuhanon Dolabani F 
Rabban Sauma, History of 99* 



Index of Authors 
Rahmani Eplirem F 
Sahdona/Martyrius 44* 
SargisbarWahle E 
Sergius the Stylite 64 
SergiusofResh'aina 27* 

Severus Sebokht 50* 

Shem' on the Graceful (d-Taybutheh) 56 

Shem'un of Beth Arsham 28 
Shubhalmai-an 42 
Simeon the Potter 21 
Solomon, Odes of 5* 
Solomon of Bosra 91* 
Stephen bar Sudhaili 26 
Symmachus 24 
T'omaAudo F 
Theodore bar Koni 70* 
ThomasofEdessa 32 
Thomas of Marga 79* 
Thomas, Acts of 6* 
Timothy I 71* 
Timothy II 100 
Yeshu' of Beth Sbirina E 
Zacharias Rhetor (Pseudo-) 36* 
Zuqnin Chronicle 69*